Colon anatomy: Pictures, features, and function

The colon is one of the independent organs of the digestive system. It helps the body absorb water and nutrients from food before excreting the waste. It is made up of brawn and located just below the digest. People mistakenly refer to the colon as the bombastic intestine, but it is lone one segment of the large intestine. The other sections are the appendix, cecum, and rectum. In healthy people, the colon looks like a u-shaped tube that is about 5 feet ( 1.5 meters ) long. It makes up one-fifth of the distance of the digestive tract, which begins at the mouth and ends at the anus.

In this article, we explain the colon ’ randomness affair, its parts, and what each part does.

The colon and its functions

An engraved anatomical drawing of the colon in blue ink. share on PinterestPhoto editing by Stephen Kelly; Photography courtesy of Cecilia Grierson/Wikimedia As a person eats, the modest intestine digests and absorbs up to 90 % of the nutrients that become fuel. What remains then passes to the colon. The main role of the colon is to process indigestible food material. More specifically, the colon :

  • absorbs water
  • absorbs electrolytes, such as potassium and chloride
  • absorbs vitamins
  • forms and pushes feces to the rectum for excretion

The colon is uniquely capable of breaking down indigestible matter because it hosts big populations of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and archaea. together, these put up to the gut microbiome. The microbiome is essential for digestion, and it helps generate nutrients that the body needs. The populations of microorganisms besides influence exemption. Learn more about the microbiome in our give hub. The colon is made up of five parts :

  • the cecum
  • the ascending colon
  • the transverse colon
  • the descending colon
  • the sigmoid colon

Body map of the colon

Click on the consistency map above to interact with a 3D mannequin of the colon.

Cecum and appendix

The cecum, pronounced “ see-kum, ” is besides called the “ proximal right colon. ”

It is a small pouch that measures about 6 by 9 centimeters ( centimeter ), or about 2.3 by 3.5 inches ( in ). The cecum is held by a dilute membrane known as the peritoneum. This pouch connects the small intestine to the rest of the colon. partially digested food comes into the cecum from the little intestine before entering the ascending colon. The cecum is besides connected to the appendix, a worm-like structure near the lower separate of the cecum. Scientists do not amply understand the character that the appendix plays. It may be a leftover of human development that no longer serves a function, but a 2017 cogitation suggests that the appendix may act as a reservoir for helpful catgut bacteria.

Ascending colon

The rise colon is the second share of the big intestine, continuing from the cecum. It is about 20–25 curium ( 7.8–9.8 in ) long and is located behind the peritoneum. The ascending colon gets its diagnose from the fact that it is erect, pushing substantial up the right side of the abdomen. The ascend colon has two key functions. It absorbs the remaining water and nutrients from indigestible matter then solidifies it to form stool .

Transverse colon

The cross colon is the longest and most mobile separate of the colon. It runs from the veracious to the leave of the abdomen and connects the end of the ascending colon to the begin of the descend colon. The main function of the cross colon is to absorb water and salts from indigestible food matter.

Descending colon

As its name suggests, the descending colon moves waste downward. It begins at the end of the cross colon and moves material down the left side of the abdomen. It is about 10–15 curium ( 3.9–5.9 in ) long. The condescend colon stores stool before this moves to the adjacent compartment — the sigmoid colon .

Sigmoid colon

This is the last part of the colon. It looks like an s-shaped tube that hangs off of the descend colon and leads to the rectum. The job of the sigmoid colon is to solidify stool before it enters the rectum and anal canal for elimination. It does this by contract, and the increase pressure moves the stool. The sigmoid colon besides absorb body of water and salts from barren matter, though it does this to a lesser extent than other parts of the colon.

Paracolic gutters

The paracolic gutters are spaces between the colon and abdominal wall. They allow infectious fluid to travel out of the organs in the gut. There are two paracolic gutters, one on either side of the body. The mighty lateral paracolic gutter is a wide outer space between the ascending colon and the abdominal wall. The impart lateral pass paracolic gutter is pin down by comparison. It is located to the side of the derive colon. Doctors can not see the paracolic gutters with aesculapian imagination tests, such as X-rays. however, as 2016 research points out, the spaces become visible when a disease affects the sphere, such as one that produces a tumor.


The colon has many functions, and it plays a full of life function in digestion and waste body waste. It has five parts, each of which absorb water and nutrients, solidifies stool, and moves waste toward the rectum. The colon is besides home to most of the catgut ’ randomness microorganisms, which help break down material that the body could not digest on its own. Scientists are still learning about the functions of some parts of the colon, such as the appendix and paracolic gutters .

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