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Definition of cotyledon

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The placenta is the organ that unites the mother and the fetus for the duration of the pregnancy. With a complex structure and high specialization, this organ is in charge of exchanging nutrients, gases, and everything that the fetus needs from the mother’s body. In turn, it also acts as an endocrine gland.

The placenta, shaped like a disc, is usually about 20 centimeters in diameter and weighs 500 grams. Its structure is peculiar, as it has two faces that differ from each other; the maternal and the fetal. While the fetal, which is internal, is smooth and covered with amnion, the fetal is covered by cotyledons.

In the following FastlyHeal article, we will give you the definition of Cotyledon, explaining its primary functions and those of the placenta.

Table of Contents

What is the Cotyledon?

As you have seen previously, the placenta comprises two different faces, the fetal and the maternal faces.

The placenta measures between 18 and 20 cm in its mature state and weigh around 500 grams. It has a lenticular shape, which widens. It becomes thicker in the center than on the sides, distinguishing, both by characteristics and functions, an internal part -fetal- and an outer part -maternal-.

The maternal side, inserted in the uterus, is covered by grooves called intercotyledons, which divide it into small fleshy eminences called cotyledons.

Thus, the cotyledons are all the visible segments on the surface of the maternal side of the placenta. There are usually between 15 and 28 and are made up of fetal vessels, chorionic villi, and intervillous spaces.

Cotyledons are made up of villi, which are made up of a coating of the syncytium, a connective tissue where the vessels branch, and a Langhans cell layer. The intercotyledonous partitions separate the cotyledons into intervillous spaces irrigated by spiral arteries that go directly, or through arterio-venous fistulas, to the basal area. The blood ascends from these compartments until it reaches the fetal face, where the venous system drains it of the marginal venous sinus.

Why the doctor counts the cotyledons

After delivery, it is usual to observe the midwife to verify the shape, integrity, color, and other attributes of the placenta and ovular membranes after the mother gives birth. This postpartum examination confirms that no ovular remains remain inside the woman’s uterus. It could cause a uterine infection or internal bleeding that could endanger the mother’s health.

The fetal face

The inner face of the placenta, which faces the amniotic cavity and is in contact with the fetus, is lined by its epithelium and is called the fetal face. While the maternal face is bleeding, it has a peculiar brilliance. In the center, you can see where the umbilical cord is inserted, consisting of a thick vein and two arteries of equal size, surrounded by connective tissue with a mucous texture called Wharton jelly.

When the umbilical cord reaches the placenta, the vessels branch radially in the placental connective tissue.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Cotyledon’s definition, we recommend that you enter our Medical Dictionary category.

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