Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
The Latin term “fundus” means “bottom,” and is used to describe the area of an organ which is opposite the opening. Despite the name, this anatomical structure can be located at the top or side of an organ, not necessarily the bottom in terms of orientation in physical space. Numerous organs in the body have an area referred to as the fundus and many anatomy texts have a listing for this structure in the index and can point interested readers to various illustrative plates.
One fundus which comes up commonly in medical practice is the fundus of the uterus. This area is located in the upper rear of the uterus, as the opening to this organ is the cervix, which is oriented downwards. During pregnancy, as the uterus expands, doctors may measure fundal height to monitor the progress of the pregnancy. This measurement runs from the top of the uterus, as felt by palpation, to the pubic bone and it is usually recorded in a woman's chart so that progress from week to week can be seen at a glance.
In the eye, the retina is sometimes referred to as the fundus of the eye. The retina may be photographed by ophthalmologists to gather information about a patient's eye health. Retinal photographs can reveal details which may not be visible with a physical exam and they can be kept in a patient chart for the purpose of monitoring changes in the eye. This photography is done by dilating the patient's eyes to expose the retina and using a specialized camera to snap a photograph.
The stomach and gallbladder also have structures referred to as the fundus. In the stomach, this region is in the upper left area of the stomach. The fundus provides room for gases which build up in the stomach and can also hold food which has not yet been digested. In the case of the gallbladder, the fundus is at the top of the organ, opposite from the cystic duct.
Some surgical procedures can involve the fundus. Patients who are curious can ask their surgeons for anatomical information so that they can understand more about the surgery. For example, when the gallbladder is removed in a cholecystectomy, the surgeon removes the entire organ, clear to the fundus, and usually sends it to a lab for examination to check for any cell abnormalities which might necessitate follow-up treatment.
@MissDaphne - No, you're not the only one--I had trouble with that, too. It's funny that your doc didn't measure it or anything. My sister had a home birth with her second child and I was there for it, so I also went to one of her checkups (also at home). Her home birth midwife whipped out a tape measure to check the height of the fundus.
You would think that an OB would be more into measuring and making sure everything was just so. Your OB must be a pretty laid-back guy.
Am I the only one who found it completely impossible to find my fundus when I was pregnant? The books made it sounds like it was really easy and I could sort of tell when it passed behind my belly button because my navel was very sore, but otherwise I could never find the darn thing.
And my doctor made it seem really easy. I would lean back on the table and he would go right to it--no searching or anything--and say "it's right where it should be." So I know I didn't have a defective uterus with no fundus or something, but I never could find what he found.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!