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Large intestine: want to learn more about it?

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Large intestine

Learning objectives

By completing this study unit, you will be able to:

  1. Name the main segments of the large intestine.
  2. Identify the anatomical features that distinguish the large intestine from the remaining gastrointestinal tract.
  3. Describe the neurovasculature and lymphatic drainage of the large intestine.

Watch videos

The large intestine is the final part of the gastrointestinal tract. It is responsible for the absorption of water and electrolytes, and converting indigestible matter to feces, which is stored temporarily until defecation. The large intestine begins at the ileocaecal junction and is made up of the cecum, vermiform appendix, colon, rectum and anal canal. The colon is the longest part of the large intestine, subdivided into four main segments: the ascending, transverse, descending and sigmoid colon. All structures of the large intestine are located retroperitoneally, with the exception of the transverse and sigmoid colon, which are intraperitoneal organs.

The large intestine can be distinguished from the remaining segments of the gastrointestinal tract by three anatomical features: omental appendices (epiploic appendages), taenia coli and haustra coli.

Check out the following video to learn more about these structures as well as the anatomical relations and neurovasculature of the large intestine:

Take a quiz

Are you ready to check how much you’ve learnt so far? Test yourself with the quiz below!

If you’re looking for a further challenge, why not take the following quiz, which you can also customize to focus on specific topics!

Browse atlas

Take the time to revise all of the most important structures, by looking through the atlas gallery below.

Summary

Key points about the large intestine
Cecum Location: Intraperitoneal
Blood
supply: Ileocolic artery
Innervation
: Superior mesenteric plexus
Lymphatic
drainage: Ileocolic lymph nodes
Vermiform appendix Location: Intraperitoneal (or in the pelvic cavity)
Mesentery
: Mesoappendix
Blood
supply: Appendicular arteries
Innervation
: Superior mesenteric plexus (sympathetic), vagus nerve (parasympathetic)
Lymphatic
drainage: Ileocolic lymph nodes
Ascending colon Location: Retroperitoneal
Blood
supply: Ileocolic and right colic arteries
Innervation
: Superior mesenteric plexus
Lymphatic
drainage: Epicolic and paracolic lymph nodes
Transverse colon Location: Intraperitoneal
Mesentery
: Transverse mesocolon
Blood
supply: Right, middle and left colic arteries
Innervation
: Superior and inferior mesenteric plexuses
Lymphatic
drainage: Middle colic lymph nodes
Descending colon Location: Retroperitoneal
Blood
supply: Left colic and superior sigmoid arteries
Innervation
: Superior hypogastric plexus (sympathetic), pelvic splanchnic nerves (parasympathetic)
Lymphatic
drainage: Left colic lymph nodes
Sigmoid colon Location: Intraperitoneal
Mesentery
: Sigmoid mesocolon
Blood
supply: Left colic and superior sigmoid arteries
Innervation
: Superior hypogastric plexus (sympathetic), pelvic splanchnic nerves (parasympathetic)
Lymphatic
drainage: Paracolic and epicolic lymph nodes
Rectum Location: Intraperitoneal (superior segment) and retroperitoneal (inferior segment)
Blood
supply: [Ano]rectal arteries
Innervation
: Superior and inferior hypogastric plexuses
Lymphatic
drainage: Pararectal and epirectal lymph nodes
Anal canal Location: Pelvic cavity (extraperitoneal)
Blood
supply: [Ano]rectal arteries
Innervation
: Superior and inferior hypogastric plexuses
Lymphatic
drainage: Pararectal and epirectal lymph nodes

Well done!

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Continue your learning

Continue your learning on the digestive system by exploring the study units for the duodenum and stomach:

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