Placenta

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The placenta is an technics organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother's blood supply. Placentas are a defining characteristic of eutherian or "placental" mammals, but are also found in some snakes and lizards with varying levels of development up to mammalian levels.[1] The word placenta comes from the Latin for cake, from Greek plakóenta/plakoúnta, accusative of plakóeis/plakoúsπλακόεις, πλακούς, "flat, slab-like",[2] in reference to its round, flat appearance in humans. Protherial (egg-laying) and metatherial (marsupial) mammals produce a choriovitelline placenta that, while connected to the uterine wall, provides nutrients mainly derived from the egg sac. The placenta develops from the same sperm and egg cells that form the fetus, and functions as a fetomaternal organ with two components, the fetal part (Chorion frondosum), and the maternal part (Decidua basalis).

Contents

Structure

In humans, the placenta averages 22 cm (9 inch) in length and 2–2.5 cm (0.8–1 inch) in thickness (greatest thickness at the center and become thinner peripherally). It typically weighs approximately 500 grams (1 lb). It has a dark reddish-blue or maroon color. It connects to the fetus by an umbilical cord of approximately 55–60 cm (22–24 inch) in length that contains two arteries and one vein.[3] The umbilical cord inserts into the chorionic plate (has an eccentric attachment). Vessels branch out over the surface of the placenta and further divide to form a network covered by a thin layer of cells. This results in the formation of villous tree structures. On the maternal side, these villous tree structures are grouped into lobules called cotyledons. In humans the placenta usually has a disc shape but different mammalian species have widely varying shapes.[4]

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