Your body has a new organ, says a new study published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.
A new organ in the human body—how could we have missed it? You’d think that we would have been able to lay our fingers on all of our organs by now. New findings show that this is far from the truth. However, it is not about an entirely newly known structure, but rather, one that has been re-discovered in the light of updated information.
The ‘new organ’ is the mesentery, and it attaches the stomach and other organs to the abdomen. It was previously thought to be a mere string of fragmented structures, but has now been discovered to be an actual, continuous organ. What remains unknown is its function. So, now, the mesentery has been re-classified.
The discoverer, J Calvin Coffey from Ireland’s University Hospital Limerick, explains that it is an organ which has remained unacknowledged until now. According to him, the description of the anatomy of the mesentery that has been documented over a century ago is incorrect: instead of being broken into pieces, the structure is a simple, continuous one.
The peer-reviewed study led to changes in medical textbooks: for instance, Gray’s Anatomy (not to be confused with TV show Grey’s Anatomy) now includes the new definition.
The mesentery has been described very early on; Leonardo da Vinci mentioned it in his works. It remained a structure dismissed as insignificant until Coffey and his colleagues delved deeper into its details in 2012. Upon discovering that it was continuous, the team collected more evidence to support their claim of the mesentery being a distinct organ.
The reclassification can now prompt more studies that could potentially boost our understanding of the digestive system, and thus our ability to treat related diseases.
“When we approach it like every other organ… we can categorise abdominal disease in terms of this organ,” said Coffey.
“Now we have established anatomy and the structure. The next step is the function. 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,” said Coffey.