Anatomy word of the month: epoophoron

December 1, 2010 —

“Upon the egg-bearer” (Greek) refers to a cluster of blind-ending tubules near the ovary of the adult female that are vestiges (remnants) of a male reproductive system, at least, potentially male. Fetuses of both sexes start out with all the basic structures to equip them to develop either a female or male reproductive system including two sets of sex ducts. Potentially female ducts may become a uterus with uterine tubes and potentially male ducts may become an epididymis and vas deferens. Through complex hormonal controls one set of ducts survives and develops appropriate to the sex and the alternate set deteriorates into a few remnants of what might have been. Such a complex apparatus also sets the stage for potential abnormalities in sexual development. The epoophoron is a vestige of an epididymis, entirely nonfunctional in the female, that would have become a structure in a male that is responsible for temporary storage of sperm while they undergo final maturation.


Dr. Dyche was born in New Jersey and trained at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center before coming to Des Moines in 1976. Over 30 plus years he has taught gross anatomy, embryology and neuroanatomy. He also served in administration as associate dean for basic sciences, dean of the College of Health Sciences, and acting director of the PA program. He was one of the founding instructors of CPR and ACLS at a time when few medical schools offered this training. He retired to Oregon in 2008, then returned to DMU in 2009. Did he miss the tornadoes, the below zero wind chills or the cadavers?

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