New insights into the morphogenesis of the gubernaculum testis and the inguinal canal
There is no consensus about the role of the gubernaculum testis (GT). Nineteen human embryos (Carnegie stages 15-23), 36 fetuses (9 weeks to term), and eight neonates were examined. All the embryos and 25 fetuses (from weeks 9-16) were processed for paraffin wax histology and serially sectioned at 10 µm thickness. The remaining 11 fetuses and the eight neonates were fresh specimens that were dissected under a surgical microscope. The GT appeared during the embryonic period (stages 17-23) with a horseshoe-shaped mesenchyme condensation of the superior concavity, which was observed in four different topographical regions sequentially through development. The GT was not attached at either of its ends in any of the specimens, not to the gonad or in the scrotal sac. The inguinal canal differentiates around the inguinal portion of the GT during the late embryonic period. After stage 21, the GT appears enveloped by an evagination of the peritoneal cavity. It has few striate muscular fibers and vessels. Although the GT does not appear to have the role traditionally attributed to it, it is still an essential structure and indirectly facilitates the descent of the testes. It contributes to the formation of the inguinal canal and then forges the pathway that the testes will subsequently take through the inguinal canal as they migrate from the abdominal cavity into the scrotal sac.