Each fallopian tube is attached with one end to either side of the upper part of the uterus , while the other end is placed in close proximity to the ovary, enveloping it from above like a funnel.
The term Fallopian tube derives from Gabriele Falloppio, a sixteenth-century botanist and anatomist who was the first to describe its exact structure.
Functions Of The Fallopian Tubes
The purpose of the uterine tubes is to collect the egg cell produced by the ovary and to channel it towards the uterus where the eventual implantation of the fertilized egg will take place . Indeed, it is precisely during the journey between the ovary and the uterus that the egg cell has the possibility of being fertilized by a sperm.
For this reason, a – rather drastic – method for birth control consists of tubal ligation: through a small surgery the doctor surgically “seals” the tubes (applying a clip), thus preventing the sperm from reaching the egg cell in the ampoule (see below).
- infundibulum : this is the name of the funnel-shaped (or trumpet-shaped) end with which the uterine tube surrounds the supero-lateral region of the ovary
- fimbriae : finger-like projections, similar to soft bristles, present in the free margin of the infundibulum; they have the task of collecting the oocyte expelled from the ovary and channeling it inside the tube;
- ampulla : expansion of the fallopian tube continuing laterally into the infundibulum and medially into the isthmus; this is the preferential site where fertilization takes place (in particular in the lateral third of the ampullary tract);
- isthmus : it is the narrowest region of the tube, which on one side opens into the uterus (in the upper part of the organ, at the limit between the fundus and the body) and on the other it widens to form the ampulla, which tends to increase progressively in diameter towards the infundibulum.
The uterine tubes are lined internally by a layer of mucosa which forms many longitudinal folds, rather high, which in the infundibular and ampullary portions reduce the lumen of the organ to thin fissures.
The mucosa is lined by a ciliated pseudostratified cylindrical epithelium , with intercalated goblet cells. It is an epithelium analogous to that of the bronchi and respiratory tracts ; in fact, while in the airways the cilia retain the dust and facilitate the expulsion of the mucus produced by the mucus cells, in the salpingx the cilia favor the progression of the oocyte towards the uterus, while the mucus protects its delicate structure.
The egg transport movement is also favored by the smooth muscle of the organ, organized into an internal circular layer and an external longitudinal one; this allows to give rise to peristaltic movements which favor the progression of the oocyte in the direction of the uterus.
Diseases of the salpinges
The main diseases affecting the fallopian tubes are:
- salpingitis : inflammation of the salpinges, often linked to infectious processes of the uterus by sexual transmission or by faecal contamination;
- pelvic inflammatory disease : if the inflammatory process becomes chronic (persistent for a long time), scar tissue forms inside the tubes, which – in addition to causing various ailments – significantly compromises the woman’s fertility;
- tubal pregnancy : it may happen that the fertilized egg implants itself in the uterine tube, starting its development there; this form of ectopic pregnancy must be adequately supervised while waiting for the spontaneous abortion and possibly treated promptly to prevent complications such as tubal rupture.