Definition of Extrafallopian

Extrafallopian: A term meaning "outside the fallopian tube." There are two fallopian tubes in female mammals, including human females. These tubes are also called oviducts. They serve as passageways connecting the egg-producing ovaries to the uterus (womb) in the pelvis.

After an egg is produced by an ovary, it enters a fallopian tube. If male sperm unites with the egg during sexual intercourse, the egg becomes fertilized. The egg is then deposited into the uterus for development. However, sometimes a defect or blockage causes the egg to remain in the fallopian tube and develop there in what is known as an ectopic pregnancy. ("Ectopic" means "out of the normal place.")

Physicians who assist infertile couples can cause fertilization to occur outside or inside a fallopian tube. To differentiate between these two fertilization techniques, they use the terms "extrafallopian" (outside the fallopian tube) and "intrafallopian" (inside the fallopian tube). The extrafallopian technique involves uniting sperm and egg outside the fallopian tube, in a laboratory dish. There fertilization occurs. The fertilized egg is then implanted in a fallopian tube. The intrafallopian technique involves injecting an egg and sperm into the fallopian tube. Fertilization then occurs.

The word "extrafallopian" is formed from the Latin word "extra" (outside) and the English word "fallopian" (an adjective derived from the name of a 16th century Italian anatomist, Gabriello Fallopio, who discovered the purpose of the oviducts.)


Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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