A new human organ called mesentery that was previously thought to be part of the abdomen was found to be a fragmented structure made up of multiple separate parts by Irish scientists.
Lead researcher J Calvin Coffey, professor at University of Limerick (Ireland), said the mesentery is an undivided structure. It is a fold of the peritoneum attached to the stomach, small intestine, pancreas, spleen, and other organs to the posterior wall of the abdomen.
Initially, researchers thought that the mesentery, which connects the gut to the body, was one continuous organ. "Up till then 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," Coffey said.
Now that there is evidence for categorising the mesentery as a separate organ would usher in new study and approach to abdomen in the medical study as an entirely new science like gastroenterology, he noted.
Better understanding of the mesentery could lead to less invasive surgeries, fewer complications, faster patient recovery and lower overall costs in the future, he added.
"When we approach it like every other organ…we can categorise abdominal disease in terms of this organ," Coffey said.
His study has been published in the journal The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.