Just when you think we know everything about our bodies, science hits us with something new. In the year 2017, scientists have discovered a new organ in humans.
Yes, it’s true: scientists have officially identified a new organ in your gut. That organ is described as a “mighty membrane” that twists and turns its way through your gut.
To be clear, scientists and doctors have known about this membrane for quite some time. It wasn’t until this year, however, that scientists officially classified the membrane as an organ.
The new organ is called the mesentery. The mesentery is the membrane that connects your large and small intestines to your abdominal wall, anchoring them in place.
Until recently, most scientists thought the mesentery was a collection of different membranes – which is why it was never previously classified as an organ. Now, however, thanks to new research, we know that it’s a single membrane.
We Can Thank Leonardo da Vinci for the Mesentery
Way back in the 15th and 16th centuries, Leonardo da Vinci identified the mesentery as one simple structure.
Over the years, scientists moved away from that point of view, eventually deciding that the membranes were a series of distinct structures. Throughout the 20th century, medical textbooks referred to the mesentery as a series of fragmented membranes. Different membranes were associated with different parts of the intestines. This was treated as fact – and it’s what many doctors learned as fact in medical school.
Now, thanks to new research, it appears that da Vinci was right all along.
Researchers in Ireland Discovered the New Organ
This new discovery is credited to Dr. J. Calvin Coffey, a professor of surgery at the University of Limerick in Ireland. He and a team of colleagues looked at past studies and literature on the mesentery, seeking to challenge the assumption that it was a series of distinct membranes.
The problem, of course, is that it’s difficult to look at the mesentery of someone unless they’re either dead or undergoing major surgery.
To verify their claim, these researchers looked at the mesentery in patients undergoing colorectal surgery. They also examined cadavers. All of this research led Dr. Coffey and his team to conclude that the membrane is one continuous organ.
This research was published in the November 2016 issue of The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology in a study titled, “The mesentery: structure, function, and role in disease.”
What Does This Mean for You?
Will this reclassification affect the average person in any way, shape, or form? How will this approach change modern medicine?
Dr. Coffey, in a statement, said that their research is enormously relevant, stating that the reclassification “is relevant universally as it affects all of us.”
Dr. Coffey added that,
“If you understand the function, you can identify abnormal function, and then you have disease.”
Ultimately, any time researchers learn more about the human body, it’s a good thing for modern medicine and humans in general. The reclassification of the mesentery will change the way doctors approach surgery and medicine from this point forward.