Anatomy and Pathology of the Umbilical Cord and Major Fetal Vessels

  • Kurt Benirschke
  • Peter Kaufmann


The development of the umbilical cord is closely related to that of the amnion (see Chapter 11). Throughout the last days of the second week p.c., the blastocystic cavity is being filled by a loose meshwork of mesoderm cells, the extraembryonic mesoblast, which surrounds the embryoblast (Figure 12.1a, day 13). The embryoblast at that time is composed of two vesicles: the amnionic vesicle and the primary yolk sac. When these two vesicles are in contact with each other, they form the double-layered embryonic disk. During the following days the extraembryonic mesoderm cells are rearranged in such a way that they line the inner surface of the trophoblastic shell as chorionic mesoderm. They also cover the surface of the two embryonic vesicles (Figure 12.1b, day 18). Between the two mesoderm layers the exocoelom cavity forms. It largely separates the embryo and its mesodermal cover from the chorionic mesoderm. The exocoelom is bridged by the mesoderm in only one place, which lies basal to the amnionic vesicle. This mesenchymal connection is referred to as the connecting stalk (Figure 12.1, day 18). It fixes the early embryo to the membranes and is the early forerunner of the umbilical cord. During the same period (around day 18 p.c.) a duct-like extension of the yolk sac, originating from the future caudal region of the embryo, develops into the connecting stalk. This structure is the transitory allantois, the primitive extraembryonic urinary bladder. Heifetz (1996) estimated that some 20% of umbilical cords at term contained remnants of allantoic or omphalomesenteric duct, primarily near the fetal end.


Umbilical Cord Umbilical Artery Umbilical Vessel Single Umbilical Artery Nuchal Cord 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kurt Benirschke
    • 1
  • Peter Kaufmann
    • 2
  1. 1.University Medical CenterUniversity of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Institut für Anatomie der Medizinischen FakultätRheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule AachenAachenGermany

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