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Ovary - nontumor

Normal anatomy

Reviewer: Mohiedean Ghofrani, M.D. (see Reviewers page)
Revised: 6 June 2012, last major update December 2011
Copyright: (c) 2002-2011, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.


● Paired ovoids on either side of the uterus close to lateral pelvic wall, behind broad ligament, anterior to rectum

Each ovary is connected:
● Along its anterior (hilar) margin to posterior aspect of broad ligament by mesovarium (double fold of peritoneum)
● At its medial pole to ipsilateral uterine cornu by utero-ovarian ligament
● At superior aspect of lateral pole to lateral pelvic side wall by infundibulopelvic (suspensory) ligament

● Premenopausal ovaries are each 3-5 cm long and weigh 5-8 g; size and weight depends on amount of follicular derivatives (cysts and corpora albicantia/lutea); shrink to about half their size after menopause
● Neonates often have cysts, which resolve spontaneously (J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab 2007;20:397)
● Pink-white exterior is initially smooth but gradually becomes more convoluted
● Cystic follicles and corpora lutea may be visible from outside
● Cut section may exhibit three zones: cortex, medulla, and hilus, with follicular derivatives usually in the cortex and medulla
● Arterial supply: Approximately 10 arterial branches from anastomotic arcade of ovarian artery (branch of aorta) and ovarian branch of uterine artery penetrate hilus into medulla and cortex
● Venous drainage: Left ovarian vein drains to left renal vein, right ovarian vein drains to inferior vena cava
● Lymphatic drainage: Originates predominantly from theca layer of follicles, exiting through the hilus, to the mesovarium, along the infundibulopelvic ligament, into upper paraaortic lymph nodes; may bypass to internal iliac, external iliac, common iliac, sacral, obturator, pelvic, retroperitoneal, or inguinal nodes
● Function first described by Reinier de Graaf (Arch Pathol Lab Med 2000;124:1115)
Ovulation: induces cyclic rupture and regenerative repair of the ovarian surface epithelium

Drawings / gross images


Ovary about to release an egg

Additional references


End of Ovary - nontumor > Normal anatomy

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