The mesentery, which connects the intestine to the abdomen, had for hundreds of years been considered a fragmented structure made up of multiple separate parts. However, new research by University Hospital Limerick scientists found the mesentery is one, continuous structure.
a review published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, University Hospital Limerick Professor J Calvin Coffey and his colleague, Peter O’Leary, outlined the evidence for categorizing the mesentery as an organ.
"In the paper, we are now saying we have an organ in the body which hasn’t been acknowledged as such to date,” Prof. Coffey said.
Better understanding and further scientific study of the mesentery could lead to less invasive surgeries, fewer complications, faster patient recovery and lower overall costs.
"When we approach it like every other organ… we can categorize abdominal disease in terms of this organ,” Prof. Coffey explained.
Mesenteric science is its own specific field of medical study in the same way as gastroenterology, neurology and coloproctology, according to Prof. Coffey.
"This is relevant universally as it affects all of us. Up to now there was no such field as mesenteric science,” Prof. Coffey said.
"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.”
"During the initial research, we noticed in particular that the mesentery, which connects the gut to the body, was one continuous organ,” he explained.
"Up to that it was regarded as fragmented, present here, absent elsewhere and a very complex structure.”
"The anatomic description that had been laid down over 100 years of anatomy was incorrect.”
"This organ is far from fragmented and complex. It is simply one continuous structure.”
Already, medical students around the world are, from this year, learning about the mesentery as a continuous organ, after this research prompted an update in one of the world’s best-known medical textbooks Gray’s Anatomy.