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A lumen (plural: lumina) is a term that describes the cavity within the tubular structure. It usually refers to the space inside digestive, respiratory, and urogenital organs or vessels of the body. For example, the blood flows towards the heart through the lumen of the superior vena cava. However, there are also lumina in other structures (e.g. bile ducts), or even in some components of cells (e.g. microtubules). 

The size of the lumina varies depending on their location. For example, the largest lumina in the human body are located in the intestines and aorta. Some examples of smaller lumina are ducts and channels traveling between organs including bile ducts, renal tubules, etc. The main characteristic of a lumen is its patency which means that it is open and unobstructed. 

The main role of the lumen is to transport the air, blood, fluids, food and other substances inside the body, or between the body and the exterior. 

In clinical practice, the commonly used procedures are transluminal procedures. These are the procedures that include inserting medical devices (i.e. endoscope or catheter) through a lumen of an organ or a vessel.

Terminology English: Lumen
Latin: Lumen
Plural: Lumina
Definition Cavity within tubular structure

You can start learning about the lumina of different tubular organs with our study units: 

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