Denonvilliers' fascia revisited.

Research paper by Ji Hyun JH Kim, Yusuke Y Kinugasa, Si Eun SE Hwang, Gen G Murakami, Jose Francisco JF Rodríguez-Vázquez, Baik Hwan BH Cho

Indexed on: 11 Jul '14Published on: 11 Jul '14Published in: Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy


Although several studies have reported that the peritoneum does not contribute to the formation of a fascia between the urogenital organs and rectum, Denonvilliers' fascia (DF), a fascia between the mesorectum and prostate (or vagina) in adults, is believed to be a remnant of the peritoneum. Remnants of the peritoneum, however, were reportedly difficult to detect in other fusion fasciae of the abdominopelvic region in mid-term fetuses. To examine morphological changes of the pelvic cul-de-sac of the peritoneum, we examined 18 male and 6 female embryos and fetuses. A typical cul-de-sac was observed only at 7 weeks, whereas, at later stages, the peritoneal cavity did not extend inferiorly to the level of the prostatic colliculus or the corresponding structure in females. The cul-de-sac had completely disappeared in front of the rectum at 8 weeks and homogeneous and loose mesenchymal tissue was present in front of the rectum at the level of the colliculus at 12-16 weeks. We found no evidence that linearly arranged mesenchymal cells developed into a definite fascia. Therefore, the development of the DF in later stages of fetal development may result from the mechanical stress on the increased volumes of the mesorectum, seminal vesicle, prostate and vagina and/or enlarged rectum. Therefore, we considered the DF as a tension-induced structure rather than a fusion fascia. Fasciae around the viscera seemed to be classified into (1) a fusion fascia, (2) a migration fascia and (3) a tension-induced fascia although the second and third types are likely to be overlapped.