Normal anatomy

Author: Mandolin Ziadie, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 11 October 2017, last major update June 2011

Copyright: (c) 2002-2017,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Placenta anatomy [title]

Cite this page: Ziadie, M. Normal anatomy. website. Accessed October 16th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Fetomaternal organ involved in nutrition, waste elimination and gas exchange between the developing fetus and mother
Diagrams / tables

Images hosted on other servers:


Gross description
    Parts of placenta
  • Disc: composed of fetal portion (chorionic plate) and maternal portion (basal plate decidua)
  • Divided into cotyledons from primary stem villi and lobules from secondary stem villi
  • Average size at term: 22 cm diameter, 2.0 - 2.5 cm thickness, 470 g

Membranes: composed of amnion, exocoelomic space, chorion and decidual capsularis
  • Usually insert directly onto the placental edge
  • Amnion: innermost covering of amniotic cavity; composed of flat epithelial cells that rest on a thin basement membrane with underlying thin band of loose connective tissue; may show squamous metaplasia, especially near cord or in pregnancies complicated by oligohydramnios
  • Exocoelomic space: potential space between the amnion and chorion which is usually obliterated but allows the membranes to slide against each other
  • Chorion: connective tissue membrane containing fetal vessels, internal to amnion, external to villi
  • Membranous chorion (chorion laeve): formed by collapse of the intervillous space during development; composed of mononuclear, sometimes vacuolated, trophoblasts and scattered atrophic chorionic villi
  • Decidual chorion (chorion frondosum): located in the placenta proper

Umbilical cord:
  • Twisted cable that connects the fetus to the placenta and carries the two umbilical arteries and a single umbilical vein
  • Vessels branch out over the fetal surface to form the villous tree
  • Average size: 55 - 60 cm length and 2.0 - 2.5 cm diameter
Gross images

Images hosted on other servers:

Basal plate (maternal surface)

Chorionic plate (fetal surface)

Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

Basal plate (maternal surface)