Anatomy and Histology of the Cervix

  • Alex Ferenczy
  • Thomas C. Wright


The uterus is best divided into corpus, isthmus, and cervix. The cervix (term taken from the Latin, meaning neck) is the most inferior portion of the uterus, protruding into the upper vagina. The transition between the endocervix and the lower portion of the uterine corpus is termed the isthmus or lower uterine segment. The latter is used for descriptive purposes during gestation and labor and is an important landmark for the pathologist when describing cancers of the uterine corpus. The muscular layer in the region of the isthmus is less well developed than in the corpus, a feature that facilitates effacement and dilation during labor. The vagina is fused circumferentially and obliquely to the distal part of the cervix and is divided into an upper, supervaginal, and lower vaginal portion.28 The cervix measures 2.5–3.0 cm in length in the adult nulligravida, and when normally positioned it is angled slightly downward and backward. The vaginal portion (portio vaginalis) of the cervix, also referred to as the exocervix, is delimited by the anterior and posterior vagina fornices and has a convex elliptical surface. The portio may be divided into anterior and posterior lips, of which the anterior is shorter and projects lower than the posterior lip. In the center of the exocervix is the external os. This external os is circular in the nulligravida and slit-like in the parous woman (Fig. 5.1). The external os is connected with the isthmus of the uterus by the cervical canal (endocervix). The canal is an elliptical cavity, measuring 8 mm in its greatest diameter and contains longitudinal mucosal ridges, the plicae palmatae (Fig. 5.2).


Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia Squamous Epithelium Columnar Epithelium Squamous Metaplasia Superficial Cell 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex Ferenczy
  • Thomas C. Wright

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