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Anatomical ambiguity
  1. Firdous A Khan, professor and
  2. Afroza Khanam, instructor
  1. Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, School of Veterinary Medicine, St George’s University, True Blue, Grenada
  1. email: fkhan8{at}

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We would like to draw attention towards the inconsistent use of terminology to describe a part of the reproductive tract that was previously referred to as ‘oviduct’.

In 1994, the World Association of Veterinary Anatomists (WAVA) approved replacement of the term ‘oviduct’ by the term ‘uterine tube’ in domestic animals.1 However, the term ‘uterine tube’ appears to have a poor universal acceptance and both terms continue to be used in the literature.

We made a search of the literature published in the past five years across species listed in PubMed. Overall, the term ‘oviduct’ was mentioned in 335 papers and the term ‘uterine tube’ was mentioned in 109 papers. Both terms have been used across all species. A review of the latest editions of four textbooks commonly used in theriogenology teaching across veterinary schools around the world revealed similar results; both terms were used in the textbooks.2-5 ‘Oviduct’ was mentioned 101, 35, 89 and 194 times, respectively, whereas ‘uterine tube’ was mentioned 2, 115, 76 and 63 times.

We feel that the use of different terms for an organ in the same species, or even in different species, is confusing and creates an unnecessary impediment to learning. The confusion is further compounded by the fact that domestic animals have a bicornuate uterus comprising two uterine horns and a uterine body5 and some students confuse the term ‘uterine tube’ with the term ‘uterine horn’. The use of multiple names for the same organ also makes literature searches more tedious and time consuming, and potentially less robust as well.

It is clear from review of the recent literature that despite the recommendation of the WAVA to use the term ‘uterine tube’ in domestic animals, there is a preference for the term ‘oviduct’ among veterinary clinicians and researchers. While we understand that there must have been reasons for the previous change in terminology from ‘oviduct’ to ‘uterine tube’, we that the term ‘uterine tube’ creates an impression that the oviduct is a part of the uterus and poses additional challenges in both teaching and research.

Therefore, we urge the WAVA to reconsider the change in terminology. Considering the preference for ‘oviduct’ in the literature and the issues with ‘uterine tube’ mentioned above, we suggest that the term ‘oviduct’ should be used across all species. If the change in terminology is not reversed, then at least a consensus should be developed and only one term should be used consistently.


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