Anatomy word of the month: Gubernaculum

August 2, 2012 —

gubernatorialA guide or leader, literally, helm or rudder in Latin. The testis or testicle of the adult male does not originate in the scrotum, but must be guided into its adult position from inside the abdominal cavity. The job of the gubernaculum, a cord of tissue extending from the embryonic testis through the inguinal canal to the scrotum, is to assure that the journey of the testis is successful. Although an unfamiliar term to most, you may know a related word referring to the election of a state governor. Can you think of the word?

In some male newborns one or both testes become stuck in the inguinal canal. Undescended testis(es) is called cryptorchidism (hidden testicle). Orchis is the Greek word for testis.

By the way, the selection of a governor is called a gubernatorial election.


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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