New research updates fundamental order of the abdomen

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New evidence detailing the fundamental order of the abdomen has emerged, describing its makeup, structure, and role in disease. Researchers believe this new organization explains a wide range of disorders and will impact the way patients are diagnosed. 

The updated research, spearheaded by J Calvin Coffey, PhD, foundation chair of surgery at the University of Limerick School of Medicine in Ireland, was published in the Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

The abdomen has a simple design, not the complex collection of separate organs it was previously thought to be, according to the new work. The digestive organs are neatly packaged and arranged by the mesentery into a single digestive organ.

“We showed how the mesentery is a single and continuous organ in and on which all abdominal digestive organs develop and then remain connected to throughout life,” said Coffey. “These findings revealed a simplicity in the abdomen that was not apparent in conventional descriptions of anatomy.”

The most important finding for the researchers was the discovery of the fundamental order of the abdomen being organized into one of two compartments. This is particularly important when it comes to diagnosing patients and determining treatment.

“The organizational simplicity of the abdomen now immediately explains the behaviors of viral and bacterial infections, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, and many others,” Coffey said.

Described as a “mesenteric-based approach” to diagnosis and treatment of abdominal conditions, researchers have already reported benefits to patients.

Coffey was also responsible for research that led to the reclassification of the mesentery as a new organ in 2016.