Plate 14.272 Vas Deferens
Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger,
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed
Dog, 10% formalin, H. & E.,
A. 50 x., B. 162 x., C. & D. 612 x.
The ductus deferens (A) is the most prominent component of the spermatidicord and is readily palpated through the scrotal skin. Within the cord, the vas lies in company with a plexus of veins, the pampiniform plexus (so-named for the resemblance of the tortuous veins to tendrils of a vine), branches of the spermatic artery and nerves of the spermatic plexus, and the cremaster muscle.
The mucosa of the vas deferens consists of a prominent pseudostratified columnar epithelium bearing conspicuous stereocilia (B and C and is underlaid by a lamina propria, which abuts the robust muscular components of the organ without a defined submucosal layer. The musculature of the organ is organized into sparse inner longitudinal, prominent middle circular, and well-defined outer longitudinal layers. The vas is surrounded by an adventitia throughout its length. The organ's overall topography, together with the tendency of its mucosa to be thrown into deep folds upon fixation, causes this organ to be readily mistaken for other muscular ducts of the body (i.e., ureter and oviduct). Careful examination of the lining epithelium will confirm identification of each; in addition, the vas may exhibit a packed mass of luminal sperm (D). At the time of ejaculation, the vas rhythmically contracts, conveying spermatozoa stored within the terminal portion of the epididymis and along the length of the vas itself to the ejaculatory ducts. Electron-microscopic studies of the vas have confirmed that its fine structure differs significantly along its length and that the description of the vas as a passive conduit for sperm is inadequate. The scrotal ductus deferens (frequently referred to clinically as the vas) is the common site of ligation or excision of a portion of the organ in the surgical procedure of vasectomy.
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