Reference > Anatomy of the Human Body > Page 1262
Henry Gray (1825–1861).  Anatomy of the Human Body.  1918.
  The position of the uterus in the adult is liable to considerable variation, depending chiefly on the condition of the bladder and rectum. When the bladder is empty the entire uterus is directed forward, and is at the same time bent on itself at the junction of the body and cervix, so that the body lies upon the bladder. As the latter fills, the uterus gradually becomes more and more erect, until with a fully distended bladder the fundus may be directed backward toward the sacrum.
  During menstruation the organ is enlarged, more vascular, and its surfaces rounder; the external orifice is rounded, its labia swollen, and the lining membrane of the body thickened, softer, and of a darker color. According to Sir J. Williams, at each recurrence of menstruation, a molecular disintegration of the mucous membrane takes place, which leads to its complete removal, only the bases of the glands imbedded in the muscle being left. At the cessation of menstruation, a fresh mucous membrane is formed by a proliferation of the remaining structures.
  During pregnancy the uterus becomes enormously enlarged, and in the eighth month reaches the epigastric region. The increase in size is partly due to growth of preëxisting muscle, and partly to development of new fibers.
  After parturition the uterus nearly regains its usual size, weighing about 42 gm.; but its cavity is larger than in the virgin state, its vessels are tortuous, and its muscular layers are more defined; the external orifice is more marked, and its edges present one or more fissures.
  In old age the uterus becomes atrophied, and paler and denser in texture; a more distinct constriction separates the body and cervix. The internal orifice is frequently, and the external orifice occasionally, obliterated, while the lips almost entirely disappear.

Structure.—The uterus is composed of three coats: an external or serous, a middle or muscular, and an internal or mucous.
  The serous coat (tunica serosa) is derived from the peritoneum; it invests the fundus and the whole of the intestinal surface of the uterus; but covers the vesical surface only as far as the junction of the body and cervix. In the lower fourth of the intestinal surface the peritoneum, though covering the uterus, is not closely connected with it, being separated from it by a layer of loose cellular tissue and some large veins.
  The muscular coat (tunica muscularis) forms the chief bulk of the substance of the uterus. In the virgin it is dense, firm, of a grayish color, and cuts almost like cartilage. It is thick opposite the middle of the body and fundus, and thin at the orifices of the uterine tubes. It consists of bundles of unstriped muscular fibers, disposed in layers, intermixed with areolar tissue, bloodvessels, lymphatic vessels, and nerves. The layers are three in number: external, middle, and internal. The external and middle layers constitute the muscular coat proper, while the inner layer is a greatly hypertrophied muscularis mucosæ. During pregnancy the muscular tissue becomes more prominently developed, the fibers being greatly enlarged.
  The external layer, placed beneath the peritoneum, is disposed as a thin plane on the vesical and intestinal surfaces. It consists of fibers which pass transversely across the fundus, and, converging at each lateral angle of the uterus, are continued on to the uterine tube, the round ligament, and the ligament of the ovary: some passing at each side into the broad ligament, and others running backward from the cervix into the sacrouterine ligaments. The middle layer of fibers presents no regularity in its arrangement, being disposed longitudinally, obliquely, and transversely. It contains more bloodvessels than either of the other two layers. The internal or deep layer consists of circular fibers arranged in the form of two hollow cones, the apices of which surround the orifices of the uterine tubes, their bases intermingling with one another on the middle of the body of the uterus. At the internal orifice these circular fibers form a distinct sphincter.
  The mucous membrane (tunica mucosa) (Fig. 1169) is smooth, and closely adherent to the subjacent tissue. It is continuous through the fimbriated extremity of the uterine tubes, with the peritoneum; and, through the external uterine orifice, with the lining of the vagina.
  In the body of the uterus the mucous membrane is smooth, soft, of a pale red color, lined by columnar ciliated epithelium, and presents, when viewed with a lens, the orifices of numerous tubular follicles, arranged perpendicularly to the surface. The structure of the corium differs from that of ordinary mucous membranes, and consists of an embryonic nucleated and highly cellular form of connective tissue in which run numerous large lymphatics. In it are the tube-like uterine glands, lined by ciliated columnar epithelium. They are of small size in the unimpregnated uterus, but shortly after impregnation become enlarged and elongated, presenting a contorted or waved appearance (see page 60).
  In the cervix the mucous membrane is sharply differentiated from that of the uterine cavity. It is thrown into numerous oblique ridges, which diverge from an anterior and posterior longitudinal raphé. In the upper two-thirds of the canal, the mucous membrane is provided with numerous deep glandular follicles, which secrete a clear viscid alkaline mucus; and, in addition, extending through the whole length of the canal is a variable number of little cysts, presumably follicles which have become occluded and distended with retained secretion. They are called the ovula Nabothi. The mucous membrane covering the lower half of the cervical canal presents numerous papillæ. The epithelium of the upper two-thirds is cylindrical and ciliated, but below


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