Large intestine

Large intestine

Infobox Anatomy
Name = Large intestine
Latin = intestinum crassum
GraySubject = 249
GrayPage = 1177

Caption = Front of abdomen, showing the large intestine, with the stomach and small intestine in dashed outline.

Caption2 = Front of abdomen, showing surface markings for liver (red), and the stomach and large intestine (blue).
Precursor =
System =
Artery =
Vein =
Nerve =
Lymph = inferior mesenteric lymph nodes
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DorlandsPre = i_11
DorlandsSuf = 12456545
The large intestine is the last part of the digestive system: the final stage of the alimentary canal in vertebrate animals. Its function is to absorb the remaining water from indigestible food matter, as well as store the useless nutrients and wastes and flush them from the body. [cite book
last = Maton
first = Anthea
authorlink =
coauthors = Jean Hopkins, Charles William McLaughlin, Susan Johnson, Maryanna Quon Warner, David LaHart, Jill D. Wright
title = Human Biology and Health
publisher = Prentice Hall
date = 1993
location = Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA
pages =
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 0-13-981176-1

The large intestine starts in the right iliac region of the pelvis, just at or below the right waist. Joined to the bottom end of the small intestine, it consists of the cecum and colon. The large intestine is about convert|1.5|m|ft| long, which is about one-fifth of the whole length of the intestinal canal.

Function and relation to other organs

The large intestine takes 12-25 hours to finish up the remaining processes of the digestive system. Food is not broken down any further in this stage of digestion. The large intestine simply absorbs vitamins that are created by the bacteria inhabiting the colon. It is also very important in absorbing water and compacting the feces, it also stores fecal matter in the rectum until eliminated through the anus and thus is responsible for passing along solid waste.

The large intestine differs most obviously from the small intestine in being wider and in showing the longitudinal layer of the muscularis have been reduced to 3 strap-like structures known as the taeniae coli. The wall of the large intestine is lined with simple columnar epithelium. Instead of having the evaginations of the small intestine (villi) the large intestine has invaginations (the intestinal glands). While both the small intestine and the large intestine have goblet cells, they are abundant in the large intestine.

The vermiform appendix is attached to its posteromedial surface of the large intestine. It contains masses of lymphoid tissue. It is a part of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue which gives the appendix an important role in immunityFact|date=October 2008. Appendicitis is the result of a blockage that traps infectious material in the lumen. The appendix can be removed with no damage or consequence to the patient.

The large intestine extends from the ileocecal junction to the anus and is about 1.5m long. On the surface, bands of longitudinal muscle fibers called taeniae coli, each about 5mm wide, can be identified. There are three bands and they start at the base of the appendix and extend from the cecum to the rectum. Along the sides of the taeniae, tags of peritoneum filled with fat, called epiploic appendages (or appendices epiploicae) are found. The sacculations, called haustra, are characteristic features of the large intestine, and distinguish it from the rest of the intestinal. Large intestine is different in a herbivore

Bacterial flora

The large intestine houses over 700 species of bacteria that perform a variety of functions.

The large intestine absorbs some of the products formed by the bacteria inhabiting this region. Undigested polysaccharides (fiber) are metabolized to short-chain fatty acids by bacteria in the large intestine and absorbed by passive diffusion. The bicarbonate the large intestine secretes helps to neutralise the increased acidity resulting from the formation of these fatty acids.

These bacteria also produce small amounts of vitamins, especially vitamin K and Biotin (a B vitamin), for absorption into the blood. Although this source of vitamins generally provides only a small part of the daily requirement, it makes a significant contribution when dietary vitamin intake is low. An individual who depends on absorption of vitamins formed by bacteria in the large intestine may become vitamin deficient if treated with antibiotics that inhibit other species of bacteria as well as the disease-causing bacteria.

Other bacterial products include gas (flatus), which is a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, with small amounts of the gases hydrogen, methane, and hydrogen sulphide. Bacterial fermentation of undigested polysaccharides produces these.

The normal flora is also essential in the development of certain tissues, including the cecum and lymphatics.

They are also involved in the production of cross-reactive antibodies. These are antibodies produced by the immune system against the normal flora, that are also effective against related pathogens, thereby preventing infection or invasion.

The most prevalent bacteria are the bacteroides, which have been implicated in the initiation of colitis and colon cancer. Bifidobacteria are also abundant, and are often described as 'friendly bacteria'.

A mucus layer protects the large intestine from attacks from colonic commensal bacteria. [cite journal
last = Stremmel
first = W
last2 = Merle
first2 = U
last3 = Zahn
first3 = A
last4 = Autschbach
first4 = F
last5 = Hinz
first5 = U
last6 = Ehehalt
first6 = R
title = Retarded release phosphatidylcholine benefits patients with chronic active ulcerative colitis
journal = Gut
volume = 54
pages = 966–971
date = 2005
url =
doi = 10.1136/gut.2004.052316
pmid = 15951544
] This mucus layer is called the mucosal barrier.

Parts and location

Parts of the large intestine are:
* Cecum - the first part of the large intestine
* Taeniae coli - three bands of smooth muscle
* Haustra - bulges caused by contraction of taeniae coli
* Epiploic appendages - small fat accumulations on the viscera

Locations along the colon are:
* The ascending colon
* The right colic flexure (hepatic)
* The transverse colon
* The transverse mesocolon
* The left colic flexure (splenic)
* The descending colon
* The sigmoid colon - the s shaped region of the large intestine



External links

* [ Overview and diagrams at]
* [ Photo at]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • large intestine — intestine (def. 3). [1855 60] * * * End section of the intestine. It is about 5 ft (1.5 m) long, is wider than the small intestine, and has a smooth inner wall. In the first half, enzymes from the small intestine complete digestion, and bacteria… …   Universalium

  • Large intestine — Intestine In*tes tine, n.; pl. {Intestines}. [L. intestinum: cf. F. intestin. See {Intestine}, a.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Anat.) That part of the alimentary canal between the stomach and the anus. See Illust. of Digestive apparatus. [1913 Webster] 2 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • large intestine — n. the relatively large section of the intestines of vertebrates, between the small intestine and the anus, including the cecum, colon, and rectum: see INTESTINE …   English World dictionary

  • large intestine — ► NOUN Anatomy ▪ the caecum, colon, and rectum collectively …   English terms dictionary

  • Large intestine — Comes after the small intestine. Large because it is wider than the small intestine. * * * large intestine n the more terminal division of the vertebrate intestine that is wider and shorter than the small intestine, typically divided into cecum,… …   Medical dictionary

  • large intestine — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms large intestine : singular large intestine plural large intestines medical the wider lower part of your intestine that changes food into solid waste …   English dictionary

  • large intestine — The long, tube like organ that is connected to the small intestine at one end and the anus at the other. The large intestine has four parts: cecum, colon, rectum, and anal canal. Partly digested food moves through the cecum into the colon, where… …   English dictionary of cancer terms

  • large intestine — large in testine n the lower part of your ↑bowels, where food is changed into solid waste matter →↑small intestine …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • large intestine — large in testine noun count the wider lower part of your INTESTINE that changes food into solid waste …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • large intestine — large′ intes′tine n. anat. intestine 3) • Etymology: 1855–60 …   From formal English to slang

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