Fallopian Tubes - Channel for Transferring Ovum
Know your Body

Fallopian Tubes: The Channel for Transferring Ovum

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 12 Dec 2014 - 15:20.

The fallopian tubes, two in number situated one on each side of the uterus are also called Oviducts. They are very fine tubes leading from the ovaries of a female into the uterus, and present only in females.

It is interesting to note that the fallopian tubes are named after the discoverer a 16th century Italian anatomist Gabriel Falloppio.

The two fallopian tubes are attached to either side of the upper end of the uterus and each terminates at or near one ovary.The fallopian tubes mainly act as the transporting channel for the female egg called the ovum developing in an ovary. The egg is encapsulated in a sac known as follicle. When mature the follicle and the walls of the ovary rupture allowing the release of the ovum, which enters the fallopian tubes. As soon as the egg enters the fallopian tubes it travels towards the uterus pushed along by the movement of cilia present in the inner lining of the tubes. The trip to travel from the ovary to the uterus through the cavity of the tubes may take hours or even days.

Two things might happen to the egg released from the ovary as it travels in the tube. One of the millions of sperm when ejaculated during a sexual intercourse at the time when the egg is traveling in the tube may penetrate the egg to fertilize it when it is still in the fallopian tube. Once the fertilization takes place in the tube it gets implanted in the endometrium of the uterus after it reaches the cavity of the uterus heralding the start of a pregnancy. Occasionally the embryo gets implanted in the fallopian tube instead of in the endometrium of the uterus leading to a dangerous condition called ‘Ectopic Pregnancy’ which can never progress to full term warranting immediate surgical operation to save the life of the mother.

The fallopian tubes are not similar to the vas deferens. Developmentally the embryos have two pairs of ducts that let the gametes out of the body. One pair develops in females into two fallopian tubes, the uterus and the vagina while the other pair develops in the males into epididymis (the sac where sperms manufactured in the testes mature) and the vas deferens (spermatic cords).

Fallopian tube opens into the uterus at one end and at the other end is near the ovary. The epithelial cells that covers the inner layer of the fallopian tube has cilia that continuously beat towards the uterus. Once an egg is released into the open space of the peritoneal cavity it is sent into the funnel shaped end of the tube and the ciliary movements in the tube carry it to the uterine cavity to meet one of two fates, fertilization or disappointment and decay in the uterine cavity to be expelled as the debris in the menstrual outflow.

Conditions affecting fallopian tubes:

The most important and the unfortunate condition affecting the fallopian tubes is a block in either or both the tubes when there is absolutely no chance for pregnancy to occur unless the block can be identified and removed or IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is contemplated. The tubal block is detected by a procedure called Hysterosalphingography when a dye is injected into the cavity and the radio opaque dye reveals a block in the x-ray taken thereafter.

Besides tubal block the fallopian tubes are prone to any infection like other organs, including a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Tuberculosis of the fallopian tubes is a condition mostly responsible for a tubal block leading to female infertility, which can be cured, with anti-tubercular drugs.

The fallopian tubes are also vulnerable to malignant lesions. When malignancy affects the tubes the condition is called fallopian tube malignancy, fallopian tube cancer or fallopian tube carcinoma.

Since both the tubes are within the broad ligament of the uterus any condition which affects the tubes might involve the broad ligament particularly malignancy.

In some cases a woman may like to adopt permanent contraception after having mothered a couple of children particularly when both the partners have agreed to adopt permanent contraception. The procedure adopted to achieve permanent contraception is called ‘Tubal Ligation’ or ‘Tubectomy’. In this procedure, around half an inch of the tube is cut and removed and the ends of the cut tube are ligated to prevent entry of the egg into the uterus thereby preventing pregnancy.

On the other hand a woman craving for a child but unable to have one because of a block in the tubes that cannot be made patent opts for IVF to mother a child. The procedure involves high level technical skill when the doctor collects an egg from the female and gets it fertilized outside her uterus with the sperm of her partner and implants the fertilized egg in the patient’s uterus for pregnancy to continue.

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.