The fallopian tubes are tubes of muscle measuring approx. 10-15 cm that connect the ovaries to the uterus. They are lined with a mucosal layer covered with fine hairs, called the ciliated epithelium. Fallopian tubes have two important roles to play in reproduction: they transport sperm and egg cells, and embryos, and they have a secretory function. This also enables them to form a barrier to ascending infections. The former occurs via the activity of the ciliated epithelium together with the rhythmic contraction of the muscles. The latter is important for maintaining sperm and egg/embryo cell function.
These roles may be impaired by infection, endometriosis, chronic inflammation in the abdomen or adhesions following surgery. The patency of the fallopian tubes can be assessed by ultrasound; the conventional fallopian tube test uses laparoscopy.