Scientists are always making new discoveries; that’s what they do. Over the past couple years, for example, we have come to learn so much more about the ever expanding universe. Indeed, scientists have discovered enumerable exoplanets and even candidates for new Earth-like planets that could support life.
But health researchers have recently looked inward to make their latest discovery. Yes, research into the human digestive system suggests that, perhaps, the connective tissue called the mesentery—which connects the intestine to the abdomen—is actually an organ.
“During the initial research, we noticed in particular that the mesentery, which connects the gut to the body, was one continuous organ,” explains J. Calvin Coffey, who is the Foundation Chair of Surgery the University of Limerick’s Graduate Entry Medical School and University Hospitals Limerick. He goes on to say, “Up to that it was regarded as fragmented, present here, absent elsewhere and a very complex structure. The anatomic description that had been laid down over 100 years of anatomy was incorrect. This organ is far from fragmented and complex. It is simply one continuous structure.”
The mesentery—now an organ—has long been thought to be made up of several fragmented, individual structures. However, the organ’s reclassification has been published in the Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology contends that now scientists can explore it like every other organ.
Coffee goes on to explain: “We can categorize abdominal disease in terms of this organ.” He continues, “In the paper, we are now saying we have an organ in the body which hasn’t been acknowledged as such to date.”
Furthermore, the peer-reviewed and assessed paper also adds: “The anatomic description that had been laid down over 100 years of anatomy was incorrect. This organ is far from fragmented and complex. It is simply one continuous structure.”
Of course, the research could now lead to less invasive surgeries, fewer complications, and faster patient recovery, as well as lower overall costs.
Coffey concludes that since they have now established the anatomy and structure, the next step is to recognize its function. He explains, “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.”