Just when we thought we had a good grasp on the inner workings of the human body, researchers have discovered a new organ that has apparently been around this whole time. Say what?
Mesentery, which is part of the digestive system, is the newest organ to be officially classified by scientists. Although researchers have just now identified mesentery, it’s clearly been there all along. So what took everyone so long to find it?
Well, mesentery is the organ that connects your intestine to your abdomen. Because of its spiral formation, it has long been thought to be separate fragmented structures, but recent research shows that mesentery is actually one continuous organ.
Its function is still poorly understood, but mesentery affects various parts of the body, including the cardiovascular and immunological systems. We do know that it carries blood and lymphatic fluid between the intestine and the rest of the body, as well as keeps the position of the intestine so that it stays connected to the abdominal wall without being in direct contact.
More research on the organ could play a useful role in understanding and treating abdominal and digestive disease.
Interestingly, Leonardo Da Vinci depicted mesentery as one single organ, and it remained that way until 1885, when Sir Frederick Treves presented it as fragmented.
Now, research from Dr. J. Calvin Coffey at the University of Limerick has identified mesentery as one organ, with the evidence for the organ’s reclassification published in peer-reviewed The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.
This discovery is so important, the organ has even been added to Gray’s Anatomy, the world’s best-known series of medical textbooks, and medical students are now being taught about the organ.
The discovery of this organ can help doctors to improve surgery and treatment for illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and cardiovascular disease.