Irish scientists have recently identified a new human organ that has existed in the digestive system for hundreds of years. Named as the mesentery, the organ connects the intestine to the abdomen and had for hundreds of years been considered a fragmented structure made up of multiple separate parts.
However, researchers led by J Calvin Coffey, Professor at University of Limerick (Ireland), describe the mesentery as an undivided structure and outlined the evidence for categorising the mesentery as an organ in the paper published in the journal The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Mesentery is a fold of the peritoneum which attaches the stomach, small intestine, pancreas, spleen, and other organs to the posterior wall of the abdomen.
During the initial research, the researchers found that the mesentery, which connects the gut to the body, was one continuous organ. “Up till then 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,” Coffey explained.
Better understanding and further scientific study of the mesentery could lead to less invasive surgeries, fewer complications, faster patient recovery and lower overall costs. “When we approach it like every other organ…we can categorise abdominal disease in terms of this organ,” Coffey said. According to Coffey, mesenteric science is a separate field of medical study in the same way as gastroenterology and others. “Up to now there was no such field as mesenteric science. Now we have established anatomy and the structure,” Coffey noted.