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Original Article

Anat Cell Biol 2022; 55(4): 467-474

Published online December 31, 2022


Copyright © Korean Association of ANATOMISTS.

Umbilical cord vessels other than the umbilical arteries and vein: a histological study of midterm human fetuses

Ji Hyun Kim1 , Shogo Hayashi2 , Zhe Wu Jin3 , Gen Murakami4 , José Francisco Rodríguez-Vázquez5

1Department of Anatomy, Jeonbuk National University Medical School, Jeonju, Korea, 2Department of Anatomy, Division of Basic Medicine, Tokai University School of Medicine, Isehara, Japan, 3Department of Anatomy, Wuxi School of Medicine, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, Jiangsu, China, 4Division of Internal Medicine, Cupid Clinic, Iwamizawa, Japan, 5Department of Anatomy and Embryology, School of Medicine, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain

Correspondence to:Ji Hyun Kim
Department of Anatomy, Jeonbuk National University Medical School, Jeonju 54907, Korea
E-mail: 407kk@hanmail.net

Received: May 16, 2022; Revised: June 8, 2022; Accepted: June 8, 2022

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


At birth, the umbilical cord contains various types of thin vessels that are near and outside the umbilicus and separate from the umbilical arteries and vein. These vessels are regarded as the remnant “vitelline vessels” and are often called “umbilical vessels”, although this terminology could lead to confusion with the true umbilical arteries and vein. No study has yet comprehensively examined these vessels using histological sections. Our examination of these vessels in 25 midterm fetuses (gestational age: 10–16 weeks) led to five major findings: (i) all specimens had umbilical branches of the inferior epigastric artery; (ii) 5 specimens had vitelline vein remnants; (iii) 4 specimens had a thin artery originating from the left hepatic artery that ran along the umbilical vein; (iv) 2 specimens had a so-called “para-umbilical vein” that was along the umbilical vein and reached the umbilicus; and (v) all specimens had lymphatic vessels originating from the umbilicus that ran caudally along the umbilical artery. The pelvic vein tributaries were well developed along the intra-abdominal umbilical artery, but did not reach the umbilicus. The lymphatic vessel was distinguished from the veins by an intraluminar cluster of lymphocytes attaching to the endothelium. The arterial branch in the umbilical cord did not accompany veins and lymphatic vessels, in contrast to the mother artery in the rectus abdominis. All these thin vessels seemed to be obliterated when the fibrous umbilical ring grew during late-term. The para-umbilical collateral vein in adults might develop outside the fibrous umbilical ring after birth.

Keywords: Umbilical cord, Umbilical arteries and vein, Para-umbilical vein, Inferior epigastric artery, Lymphatic vessels

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