The Large Intestine

Undigested food, water, and digestive juices pass into the large intestine. This part of the digestive tract begins in the lower right region of the abdomen with a small pouch, the cecum, to which the appendix is attached. The large intestine continues as the colon, a name that is often used to mean the large intestine because the colon constitutes such a large portion of that organ. The colon travels upward along the right side of the abdomen as the ascending colon, crosses below the stomach as the transverse colon, then continues down the left side of the abdomen as the descending colon. As food is pushed through the colon, water is reabsorbed and stool or feces is formed. This waste material passes into the S-shaped sigmoid colon and is stored in the rectum until eliminated through the anus.

BOX 12-1 Homonyms

Homonyms are words that sound alike but have different meanings. One must know the context in which they are used to tell what meaning is meant. For example, the ilium is the upper portion of the pelvis, but the ileum is the last portion of the small intestine. Different adjectives are preferred for each, iliac for the first and ileal for the second.

The word meiosis refers to the type of cell division that halves the chromosomes to form the gametes, but miosis means abnormal contraction of the pupil. Both words come from the Greek word that means a decrease.

Similar-sounding names lead to some funny misspellings. The large bone of the upper arm is the humerus, but this bone is often written as humorous. The vagus nerve (cranial nerve X) is named with a root that means "wander," as in the words vague and vagabond, because this nerve branches to many of the internal organs. Students often write the name as if it had some relation to the famous gambling city in Nevada.

Homonyms may have a more serious side as well. Drug names may sound or look so similar that clinicians confuse them, leading to some dangerous situations.

Accessory Organs
FIGURE 12-4. Accessory organs of digestion. (Reprinted with permission from Cohen BJ, Wood DL. Memmler's The Human Body in Health and Disease. 9th Ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000.)

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  • Carrie
    What is the medical term for division of the large intestine?
    8 years ago
  • ian
    What is the Medical terminology for intestine?
    8 years ago
    What root refers to the large intestine?
    9 months ago

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