n., plural: vestibules
Definition: a body cavity or channel that serves as an opening or entrance to a body part
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Languages are intriguing subjects that you can spend your entire life with but never get enough of… As we begin the discussion on this topic, we must be well aware of the fact that not all words used in biology are restricted to their sole usage in the subject. Rather, most of the words we use in biology have been adapted from the already existing words.
More often, we see biologists interrelating worldly objects, figures, and entities with the biological cells, organs, organisms, and biological microstructures and macrostructures to name them. This idea and way of naming representatives of the biological world and their structures bring a lot of ease to understanding biology.
The simple reason is that human memory works on the basis of ‘associating and remembering’ philosophy. When you see a water irrigation canal, you know that it’s a ‘passage’ for water to flow and irrigate the agricultural fields. In the same line of thought, the ear canal and birth canal are “specific passages” in the human body. Now, let’s take you forward and make you understand what is a vestibule!
Vestibule Definition in Biology and Anatomy
In a general sense, a vestibule refers to the entrance or a hall next to the entrance, and thus, when we are to define vestibule in biology and anatomy, we may say that it is a body channel, a canal, or a cavity that connects and opens as an entrance of some other body part. By using vestibule as a medical term, we are pinpointing the entranceway to some part of the human body.
Etymology of Vestibule
Vestibule or vestibulum are English words having their root in the Latin language. The French adopted the term “vestibule” from the Latin word “vestibulum”. The older Latin word literally stands for, ‘vestiō’, meaning ‘to dress or clothing or vest’ and ‘bulum’ meaning ‘a specific place or location’.
Vestibulum is a doublet for vestibule in the English language, meaning both words are used interchangeably. A doublet like this is the one that has the same etymological roots (here, Latin roots) but different routes to coming into existence. The plural of noun vestibule is vestibules and the plural of vestibulum is vestibula.
Find out how the word “vestibule” is pronounced:
A vestibule refers to the channel or canal or cavity that connects and opens as an entrance of some other body part, such as the vestibule of the ear. Vestibule synonyms: vestibulum; passageway; entranceway
Vestibule Function and Examples
The vestibule serves some very essential functions in the human body ranging from serving as a subpart of the outflowing canal in the human heart to filtering the inhaled air by the nasal vestibule. Let’s look at some of the human body parts and learn where is the vestibule located, how the terminology has been recurrently used, and their specific functions.
- Aortic vestibule
- Definition: Aortic vestibule is that region of the heart’s left ventricle which leads to the ascending aorta.
- Nature: Fibrous tissue-rich walls, somewhat smooth-walled too.
- Function: Serves as a subpart of the outflowing canal of the heart’s chamber.
- Position: It is at the intersection of the interventricular wall and the anterior cusp of the mitral valve. The position of the aortic vestibule is determined as:
- in the superior region of the heart’s left ventricle
- and inferior in position or below the aortic orifice
- Vestibule – Inner Ear
- Definition: An entrance to the oval cavity or space is the inner ear formed by the vestibule.
- Nature: The shape of the vestibule here is more or less oval. The dimensions are 5mm×5mm×3mm. (Front to back × top to bottom × cross).
- Function: Performs the essential role of “detection of movement and balancing” in the human body.
- Position: It is a subpart of the bony labyrinth in the human inner ear. The position of the vestibule of the inner ear is determined as:
- medial to the tympanic membrane
- behind the cochlea
- and in front of the 3 semicircular canals
- Vaginal vestibule
- Definition: It is also called the vulval or vulvar vestibule. The vaginal vestibule is the vestibule in the female body present as a part of the woman’s vulva. It is present between the (smaller lips) labia minora.
- Nature: Comprises urethral opening, Skene’s gland openings, and Bartholin’s glands openings. Hence, it’s rich in glandular secretions.
- Function: Combination of both reproductive (copulatory) and urinary functions. The secretions from these glands although serve the purpose of moistening and reducing the friction during coitus, sometimes also leads to the buildup of vaginal smegma.
- Position: Hart’s line marks the edges of the vaginal vestibule. Both the left and right sides of the vestibule are the labia minora.
- Nasal vestibule
- Definition: Nasal vestibule is that part inside our nostrils that goes on to connect with the nasal cavity.
- Nature: Made up of squamous epithelium cells, supported by cartilaginous tissue, and physically bears coarse hairs.
- Function: The hairs in the nasal vestibule help in filtering the air we breathe in. It aids in the removal of dust particles and sand and thereby ensures that filtered air reaches our lungs.
- Position: The paired vestibule is located anterior to the nasal cavity, just inside each nostril (nose opening).
- Vestibule of mouth
It is the crevice region between the soft tissue and the teeth and gums. Soft tissues here mean the lips and the cheeks. The oral cavity remains moist since the salivary glands keep secreting saliva.
Vestibule Architecture and Biology
Now, let’s come back to the worldly entities and describe the usage of the term in this perspective.
The term vestibule is used in architecture to define an enclosed entrance or entrance hall leading to some temple, museum, or big ceremonial room.
We can call this an entry vestibule (or vestibule entryway or prefabricated entry vestibule). Very often religious places like temples and churches have dedicated temples and church vestibules. Big libraries and reading rooms sometimes offer more lighting by installing glass vestibules.
So, what is the nature of a vestibule in architecture?… Is it an outdoor vestibule or an indoor vestibule? The answer to those common questions is this — In a house, a vestibule is a small entrance hall/hallway or room (vestibule room) that’s next to the outer door and connects the entrance court with the interior of the building.
Since it paves the way from the entrance to the interior, it can be also called the front vestibule. If a door is installed in the vestibule where it connects with the central hall, it’s termed a vestibule door. The elevator vestibule is the common place in front of elevators where we wait for the elevators to come.
So how does this relate to biology? As already mentioned above, the vestibules in the human body serve as an entrance hall as a sub-part of a cavity or passageway leading to a body part similar to these architectural vestibules. Thus, they are often found anteriorly, such as that in the nasal cavity, vulva, and oral cavity, where they serve generally as an entryway similar to a building’s hall or a lobby.
They may also be found somewhere inner such as the vestibule of the ear and the heart, which in this regard appear to function as both a canal and entryway to another distinct bodily part.
Vestibule Other Definition
We hope now you must have gathered enough knowledge on this topic. Usually, the main menu Google search on vestibule doesn’t provide much data and barely defined vestibule, so we have made an attempt to compile the knowledge on the topic.
Featured: Vaginal Vestibule
The vaginal vestibule is home to 2 very essential vestibular glands namely, Bartholin’s Glands and Skene’s Glands.
The secretions from vestibular glands ensure that the moist nature of the mucosa is maintained. They additionally ensure the facilitation of smooth coitus and parturition (birthing process) in both animals and human beings. Another fascinating contribution of these vestibular glands’ secretion is the ‘characteristic odor secretions’ during the estrous of the cows, bitches, and other animals that sexually attracts and stimulates their male counterparts.
Females’ Bartholin’s Glands and Skene’s Glands
|Greater vestibular glands
|Lesser vestibular glands
|Number: 2 in number
|Number: 2 in number
|Location: slightly lateral and posterior to the vagina opening
|Location: on either side of the urethra
|Homologous to: Bulbourethral glands in males
|Homologous to: Prostate glands in males
|Role: Secretion of mucus-like substance into the vagina and within the borders of the labia minora. Mucus further functions as a lubricant to decrease the friction during coitus and a moisturizer for the vulva
|Role: Secretion of antimicrobial substance to lubricate the urethra opening. Secretions prevent urinary tract infections. the function of Skene’s as the source of female ejaculation during arousal is still being studied.
Data Source: Dr. Harpreet Narang of Biology Online
Answer the quiz below to check what you have learned so far about vestibules.
- Lazzarini R, Gómez-Quiroz LE, González-Márquez H, Villavicencio-Guzmán L, Salazar-García M, Sánchez-Gómez C. The proximal segment of the embryonic outflow (conus) does not participate in aortic vestibule development. PLoS One. 2018 Dec 31;13(12):e0209930. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209930. PMID: 30596770; PMCID: PMC6312233.
- Nguyen JD, Duong H. Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Female External Genitalia. [Updated 2021 Jul 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547703/
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