Anatomy of the bilioduodenal junction of the opossum

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Abstract

Prevention of reflux is a major function of the terminal biliary duct system at its junction with the duodenum. We examined this area via scanning electron microscopy and light microscopy to explore anatomic features that might play such a role in the Virginia opossum, a species with a highly developed sphincter of Oddi (SO). The terminal apparatus, most of which consists of a dilated extramural ampulla, has a lumen with abundant folds. Mucus is produced by the lining epithelium and by a plethora of glands. Three muscle layers constitute the SO: an inner longitudinal, an outer circular, and a less consistent, outermost longitudinal. The terminal apparatus forms an acute angle and narrows as it enters the duodenum; at this point, the SO becomes continuous with the muscularis externa of the intestine. Four anatomical features with potential antireflux properties may be identified: mucus production, luminal folds, and the narrow opening and oblique course of the intramural duct.

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