Infobox Anatomy
Name = Ileum Latin = Orckecme
GraySubject = 248
GrayPage = 1171

Caption = Small intestine

Caption2 = The cecal fossa. The ileum and cecum are drawn backward and upward.
Precursor = midgut
System =
Artery = ileal arteries
Vein = ileal veins
Nerve = celiac ganglia, vagus [GeorgiaPhysiology|6/6ch2/s6ch2_30]
Lymph =
MeshName =
MeshNumber =
DorlandsPre =
DorlandsSuf =
In anatomy of the digestive system, the ileum is the final section of the small intestine. It is about 2-4 m long in humans, follows the duodenum and jejunum, and is separated from the cecum by the ileocecal valve (ICV). The pH in the ileum is usually between 7 and 8 (neutral or slightly alkaline).


Its function is mainly to absorb vitamin B12 and bile salts and whatever products of digestion were not absorbed by the jejunum. The wall itself is made up of folds, each of which has many tiny finger-like projections known as villi on its surface. In turn, the epithelial cells which line these villi possess even larger numbers of microvilli. Therefore the ileum has an extremely large surface area both for the adsorption (attachment) of enzyme molecules and for the absorption of products of digestion. The DNES (diffuse neuroendocrine system) cells that line the ileum contain the protease and carbohydrase enzymes (gastrin, secretin, cholecystokinin) responsible for the final stages of protein and carbohydrate digestion. These enzymes are present in the cytoplasm of the epithelial cells. The villi contain large numbers of capillaries which take the amino acids and glucose produced by digestion to the hepatic portal vein and the liver.

Lacteals are small lymph vessels, and are present in villi. They absorb fatty acid and glycerol, the products of fat digestion. Layers of circular and longitudinal smooth muscle enable the digested food to be pushed along the ileum by waves of muscle contractions called peristalsis..

Differences between jejunum and ileum

There is no line of demarcation between the jejunum and the ileum. There are, however, subtle differences between the two.

* The ileum has more fat inside the mesentery than the jejunum.
* The ileum is a paler color, and tends to be of a smaller caliber as well.
* While the length of the intestinal tract contains lymphoid tissue, only the ileum has abundant Peyer's patches.

These unencapsulated lymphoid nodules contain large amounts of lymphocytes and other cells of the immune system.


In the fetus the ileum is connected to the navel by the vitelline duct. In roughly 3% of humans, this duct fails to close during the first seven weeks after birth, causing a condition called Meckel's diverticulum.

Veterinary anatomy

In veterinary anatomy, the ileum is distinguished from the jejunum by being that portion of the jejunoileum that is connected to the caecum by the ileocaecal fold.



External links

* - "Abdominal Cavity: The Jejunum and the Ileum"
* [ Ileal Villi at]
* [ Ileum Microscopic Cross Section at]
* [ Ileum 20x at]
* [ Peyer's Patches at]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ileum — Il e*um, n. [L. ile, ileum, ilium, pl. ilia, groin, flank.] 1. (Anat.) The last, and usually the longest, division of the small intestine; the part between the jejunum and large intestine. [Written also {ileon}, and {ilium}.] [1913 Webster] 2.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ileum — (n.) lowest part of the small intestine, 1680s, medical Latin, from ileum, singular created from classical Latin plural ilia groin, flank, in classical Latin, belly, the abdomen below the ribs, poetically, entrails, guts. Sense restriction and… …   Etymology dictionary

  • ileum — ilèum (ȉleum) m DEFINICIJA anat. zadnji dio tankog crijeva, »vito crijevo« ETIMOLOGIJA srlat. ← grč. eílein: savijati …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Ilĕum — Ilĕum, gewundener Darm, s. Darmkanal. I. os (Ilei os), Darmbein, s.u. Beckenknochen. Ileus, Darmgicht …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Ilĕum — (lat.), der Krummdarm, s. Darm, S. 520 …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Ileum — Ilĕum (grch.), die untere Hälfte des Dünndarms …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Ileum — Ileum, lat., die 2. Hälfte der dünnen Gedärme; s. Darm; Ileitis, Entzündung des I.; Ileus, Schnürung des I., Krankheit (Volvulus, Miserere, Kothbrechen); Iliacum, was zum I. gehört; os iliacum Hüftbein; ilio costalis, Muskel vom Hüftbein zu den… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • ileum — ILÉUM s.n. v. ileon. Trimis de LauraGellner, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DN …   Dicționar Român

  • ileum — ► NOUN (pl. ilea) Anatomy ▪ the third portion of the small intestine, between the jejunum and the caecum. ORIGIN Latin, variant of ILIUM(Cf. ↑ilium) …   English terms dictionary

  • ileum — [il′ē əm] n. pl. ilea [il′ēə] [ModL < L, flank, groin (var. of ilium, ile): form prob. infl. by ileus (see ILEUS) < ?] the lowest part of the small intestine, opening into the large intestine: see INTESTINE …   English World dictionary

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