Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Anatomy

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Anatomy

To better understand inflammatory bowel disease, it helps to understand the anatomy of the gastrointestinal tract.

The esophagus is a muscular tube that propels food down to the stomach. The stomach is the most dilated portion of the digestive tube, situated between the esophagus and the beginning of the small intestine (duodenum). It lies in the upper central portion of the abdomen (above the umbilicus) and to the left of the midline. The stomach produces gastric juice (acidic), which serves to breakdown proteins.

The intestine is a long, continuous, tube inside the body. It lets the body absorb nutrients from food and liquids. The intestine is about 22 feet long. It includes the large intestine (colon) and the small intestine.

The small intestine has three parts:

  • Duodenum:
    • Connects to the stomach
  • Jejunum:
    • Middle portion of the small intestine
  • Ileum:
    • Lower portion of the small intestine that connects to the cecum (first part of the large intestine)

The large intestine is also known as the colon. It is the last portion of the intestine.

The colon has several parts, including:
  • Cecum:
    • The portion of the colon that connects to the ileum (small intestine). The appendix is a finger-like pouch that comes off of the cecum.
  • Ascending colon:
    • The first section after the small intestine, located on the right side
  • Transverse colon:
    • Sits horizontally across the upper abdomen
  • Descending colon:
    • Located on the left side of the abdomen
  • Sigmoid:
    • A short, S-shaped section above the rectum
  • Rectum:
    • The lowest internal part of the colon

Intestinal anatomy:
  • Entire gastrointestinal tract
  • Intestines and other abdominal organs
  • Blood vessels of the intestines
  • The appendix is a small pouch that protrudes from the wall of the large intestine. It is located at the point where the small intestine turns into the large intestine.

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Inflammatory Bowel Disease References
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  4. Loftus EV Jr, Kane SV, Bjorkman D. Systematic review: short-term adverse effects of 5-aminosalicylic acid agents in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Jan 15;19(2):179-89. [14723609]
  5. McKaig BC, Stack WA. Novel approaches to inflammatory bowel disease. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 1998 Jul;7(7):1099-113. [15992018]
  6. Petros JG. Crohn's disease update. Curr Surg. 2000 March - April;57(2):95-103. [16093037]
  7. Rizzello F, Gionchetti P, Venturi A, Campieri M. Review article: medical treatment of severe ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Jun;17 Suppl 2:7-10. [12786606]
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