Bock, Walter J. Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York.
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The upper part of the female oviduct present in humans and other higher vertebrates. The fallopian tube extends from the ovary to the uterus and transports ova from the ovary to the cavity of the uterus. Each tube is about 5 in. (12.5 cm) long; one lies on either side of the uterus and is attached at the upper portion. Each curves outward to end in a hoodlike opening, the infundibulum, with many fingerlike projections, the fimbriae; the cavity of the fallopian tube is continuous with the cavity of the coelom. The ovaries lie below and inside the tubal curve. When ovulation occurs, about the middle of each menstrual cycle in humans, the ovum is picked up by the fimbriae and drawn into the infundibulum and hence the oviduct. The lining of this tube is an epithelium with many hairlike processes, cilia, on its surface. These cilia, and probably muscular action, move the ovum along the tube. The ovum remains viable for about 1–3 days only. If fertilization occurs, the ovum moves into the cavity of the uterus and then implants on its wall. If fertilization fails to occur, the ovum degenerates in the uterus. Occasionally, a fertilized ovum fails to enter the uterus, or may be freed into the abdominal cavity, so that an ectopic pregnancy results if the ovum finds a site for implantation. See also: Pregnancy disorders; Reproductive system
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