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Anatomy Atlases: Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 1 - Cells Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 14 - Male Reproductive System

Plate 14.270 Epididymis

Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger, Jr., Ph.D.
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed


Plate 14.270 Epididymis

Human, 10% formalin, H. & E., 54 x.


The epididymis, a highly coiled duct approximately 6 m in length in man, is firmly adherent to the gonad. in histological preparations, therefore, it is not unusual to observe sections of both testis and epididymis. The duct is divided anatomically into three major portions (head, body, and tail) and by histological criteria, several further subdivisions may be recognized. Because of the tight coiling of the duct, histological sections invariably reveal many tubular profiles in different planes of section.

The portion of the epididymis shown here is from the distal portion of the head, in which the epithelial lining of the duct is a tall pseudostratified columnar epithelium, lacking goblet cells. The tall columnar cells bear prominent (non-motile) stereocilia on their apical surfaces, facilitating the resorption of testicular tubular fluid in which the spermatozoa are transported to the organ. A thin coat of smooth muscle surrounds the duct and is readily differentiated from the loose connective tissue surrounding the coils of the duct. A packed mass of non-motile sperm is seen within the lumen of the epididymis. In this preparation, striated muscle fibers belonging to the cremaster muscle are seen investing the organ. This muscle of the spermatic cord enables the gonad to be retracted within the scrotum toward the, abdomen. A higher power view of the epididymis is seen in Plate 271.  

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