A new organ has been discovered in the digestive system. Previously thought to be a part of the pre-existing digestive structure, the mesentery is actually now revealed to be one long, continuous organ. It’s a part of the peritoneum, a folded section of the abdominal wall that connects our intestine to the abdomen wall. This brings the number of organs in the human body up to 79.
The organ was discovered by J Calvin Coffey, Professor of Surgery at University of Limerick’s Graduate Entry Medical School, who confirms that at the moment, no-one knows exactly what it does. This is why it’s such an important discovery: “When we approach it like every other organ,” Coffey says, “we can categorize abdominal disease in terms of this organ.”
“This is relevant universally as it affects all of us,” he explains. “Up to now there was no such field as mesenteric science. Now we have established anatomy and the structure. The next step is the function. If you understand the function you can identify abnormal function, and then you have disease. Put them all together and you have the field of mesenteric science…the basis for a whole new area of science.”
The cornerstone medical text, Grey’s Anatomy, has since been updated, and medical students are now being taught about the mesentery as a separate organ. This has prompted a huge wave of new research into the area of abdominal disease, and may shed light onto a number of cancers in that region.
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