Wolffian duct

The Wolffian duct (also known as the mesonephric duct) is one of the paired embryogenic tubules that drain the primitive kidney (mesonephros) to the cloaca. It also gives off a lateral branch forming the ureteric bud. In both the male and the female the Wolffian duct develops into the trigone of the urinary bladder.

In the female, in the absence of testosterone, the Wolffian duct regresses. However, inclusions may persist resulting in the epoophoron and Skene's glands. Where a remnant exists lateral to the wall of the vagina a Gartner's duct or Gartner's cyst may form.

When the ducts are exposed to testosterone during embryogenesis, male sexual differentiation occurs: the Wolffian duct develops into the rete testis, the ejaculatory ducts, the epididymis, the ductus deferens and the seminal vesicles. The prostate is formed separately from the urogenital sinus.

Named after Caspar Friedrich Wolff: described the mesonephros and its ducts in his dissertation in 1759.

Anatomy: Abdominopelvic
Share article

Article information

rID: 6984
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • mesonephric duct

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: Developmental antomy - renal
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 2: Wolffian and Müllerian duct development
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.