A NEW 'organ' has been discovered hiding in plain sight inside the human body. Known as the mesentery, it was previously thought to be just a few fragmented structures in the digestive system. But scientists have realised it is in fact one, continuous organ.
How amazing our bodies are, and how amazing the scientists who continue making these discoveries and helping our understanding.
Article by F.Macdonald
The new organ is found in our digestive systems, and was long thought to be made up of fragmented, separate structures. But recent research has shown that it's actually one, continuous organ.
The evidence for the organ's reclassification is now published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.
Thanks to the new research, medical students have started being taught that the mesentery is a distinct organ.
The world's best-known series of medical textbooks, Gray's Anatomy, has even been updated to include the new definition.
So what is the mesentery?
It's a double fold of peritoneum - the lining of the abdominal cavity - that attaches our intestine to the wall of our abdomen, and keeps everything locked in place.
One of the earliest descriptions of the mesentery was made by Leonardo da Vinci, and for centuries it was generally ignored as a type of insignificant attachment. Over the past century, doctors who studied the mesentery assumed it was a fragmented structure made of separate sections, which made it pretty unimportant.
But in 2012, Coffey and his colleagues showed through detailed microscopic examinations that the mesentery is actually a continuous structure.
Over the past four years, they've gathered further evidence that the mesentery should actually be classified as its own distinct organ
And while that doesn't change the structure that's been inside our bodies all along, with the reclassification comes a whole new field of medical science that could improve our health outcomes.
That means that medical students and researchers will now investigate what role - if any - the mesentery might play on abdominal diseases, and that understanding will hopefully lead to better outcomes for patients.
It just goes to show that no matter how advanced science becomes, there's always more to learn and discover, even within our own bodies.