The cardinal ligament is one of the major ligaments found in the uterus of human females. Other names for this ligament include Mackenrodt's ligament, transverse cervical ligament, and lateral cervical ligament. A ligament is defined as a band of connective tissue designed to bind one bone to another. The female body contains two cardinal ligaments.
The broad ligament of the uterus works to attach each side of the uterus to the pelvis. The cardinal ligament is found at the base of this structure. The uterine artery as well as the uterine vein are found within this ligament. These blood vessels are important because they are responsible for supplying blood to the uterus.
The cervix, or neck of the uterus, is attached to the pelvic wall by the cardinal ligament. This connection takes place at the structure known as the ischial spine, a key part of the hip bone. From here, the ligament continues along with the fibrous tissue surrounding the blood vessels found in the pelvic region of the body. The uterus is supported by this position and action of the cardinal ligament.
The cardinal ligament is of particular interest and significance when it comes to the topic of hysterectomies. A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure in which the uterus is removed. There are different types of hysterectomies, depending on what other organs are or are not removed during the procedure.
In a partial hysterectomy, only the uterus is removed. A total hysterectomy involves removal of the uterus as well as the cervix. In a radical hysterectomy, several other structures are removed along with the uterus. These include the top portion of the vagina, ovaries and fallopian tubes, and the oviducts. The oviducts are the passageway that allows the eggs to the uterus from the ovaries or from the ovaries to the outside of the body.
The most common reason for a radical hysterectomy is when a diagnosis has been given of cancerous cells within the female reproductive system. Most medical professionals agree that in this type of hysterectomy, it is important to also completely remove the cardinal ligament. The reason for this is that the vascular system supplying the uterus is found in this ligament. There is a high incidence of cancerous cells being found in this structure. For this reason, in order to ensure a better chance of removing all of the cancerous areas involving the female reproductive system, it is wise to remove this ligament as well as the other organs and tissues.