Fallopian tube and egg fertilization. © Merck.
A Fallopian tube, in humans and other mammals, is either of two narrow, funnel-shaped ducts (also called oviducts or uterine tubes) , about 10 centimeters long, leading from the upper part of the uterus into the pelvic cavity and ending in fingerlike projections called fimbriae, which almost encircle each ovary.
After ovulation, movements of the fimbriae assist in directing the ovum (egg cell) to the Fallopian tube. The ovum enters and travels through the Fallopian tube where fertilization can occur. The fertilized ovum continues into the uterus where it becomes implanted. The Fallopian tubes are named after the Italian anatomist Gabriel Fallopius.
Falloposcopy is the inspection of the inner lining of the Fallopian tubes using a narrow flexible fiber-optic tube called a falloposcope, which is introduced via a hysteroscope (an endoscope used for visualization of the interior of the uterus).
Disorders of the Fallopian tube
The Fallopian tube may become inflamed, usually as a result of bacterial sexually transmitted infection; this can, in some cases, lead to infertility. Ectopic pregnancy (the development of an embryo outside the uterus) is another serious disorder that most commonly occurs in a Fallopian tube. This arises when there is a delay in the passage of the fertilized egg along the tube, usually as a result of scarring or blockage. Implantation occurs in the Fallopian tube wall, but it is too thin to sustain growth, and as the pregnancy progresses, the tube may rupture and cause internal bleeding. The pregnancy must be terminated.
Fallopius, Gabriel (1523–1562)
Gabriel Fallopius, also known as Fallopia, was an Italian anatomist and a supporter of Vesalius. He carried out important work on many anatomical structures, and is best known for his descriptions of the Fallopian tubes. He was succeeded at Padua, where he taught, by Hieronymus Fabricius.