The uterine tube, also known as the Fallopian tube or less commonly the oviduct, is a paired hollow tube that bridges between each ovary and the uterus and functions to convey the mature ovum from the former to the latter. If conception occurs, it normally does so within the tube. It can be affected by a wide range of pathology.

The uterine tube is approximately 10-12 cm long and 1-4 mm in diameter. It bridges the gap between the ovary laterally, and the uterus medially. Through it, the ovum passes into the uterine cavity. The peritoneal reflection draping over the salpinges forms the mesosalpinx.

The uterine tube is divided into 5 anatomic segments (from lateral to medial, through the path of an ovum after ovulation):

  • fimbriae: ~25 finger-like projections that drape over the ovary
    • the ovarian fimbriae are longer than the others and are attached to the tubal pole of the ovary 
  • infundibulum: a funnel-shaped lateral part that drapes over the ovary with the fimbriae emanating from it
    • it opens into the peritoneal cavity at the abdominal ostium
  • ampulla: the widest and longest section, forming over half the length
  • isthmus: immediately lateral to the uterus, it is the narrowest segment, as its name suggests
  • interstitial or intramural segment: the section within the myometrium

See mnemonic here.

The extrauterine part of the uterine tube courses between the two folds of the broad ligament, at its superior aspect 5

  • at its medial end, the interstitial segment is continuous with the uterotubal junction, a continuation of the endometrial cavity
  • at its lateral end, the infundibulum opens into the peritoneal cavity
  • arterial supply: tubal branch of the ovarian artery (lateral one-third) and terminal (tubal) branch of the uterine artery (medial two-thirds)
  • venous drainage:
    •  lateral one-third via the pampiniform plexus to the ovarian veins
    • medial two-thirds via the uterine plexus to the internal iliac vein 
  • via ovarian vessels to the para-aortic nodes and uterine vessels to the internal iliac chain
  • some drainage also to the inguinal nodes via the round ligament 
  • autonomic supply from the ovarian and uterine plexuses
  • parasympathetic: vagus for the lateral half, pelvic splanchnic to the medial half
  • sympathetic from the thoracic and lumbar spinal segments (T10- L1)
  • absent unilateral
  • hypoplastic unilateral
  • hypoplastic bilateral
  • abnormal entry into uterine body or fundus 

Like many other muscular hollow tubes, it has two layers of muscle (inner circular, outer longitudinal), and is lined by a mixture of ciliated and non-ciliated columnar epithelium. It is the former that pushes the ovum towards the uterus. 

The normal uterine tube is not visualized at cross-sectional imaging unless it is outlined by fluid. In the presence of peritoneal fluid or contrast material, the uterine tubes appear as paired, thin, serpentine juxta-uterine structures extending either anteriorly or posteriorly into the cul-de-sac.

Contrast studies can be completed by performing a hysterosalpingogram (HSG)

The fallopian tube is named after Gabriel Fallopius, an Italian anatomist (1523-62). He is the same anatomist who gave his name to the Fallopian ligament and the Fallopian canal. Despite the eponym, the word "fallopian" is most often used in lower case.

Anatomy: Abdominopelvic

Anatomy: Abdominopelvic

Article information

rID: 1325
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Fallopian tube
  • Uterine tubes
  • Oviduct
  • Oviducts

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Cases and figures

  • Normal hysterosal...
    Case 1: normal appearance on HSG
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  • Case 2: on ultrasound
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  • Case 3: obstructed fallopian tube post PID
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