Leonardo da Vinci knew about it, but scientists have overlooked it for centuries.
Although Leonardo da Vinci wrote about it in the 16th century, it has been completely overlooked by scientists for the last 500 years. But the mesentery has now been recognised as another organ in the human body.
The mesentery connects the intestine to the abdomen. Until recently, it was thought to be a series of broken-up pieces. But now, in a paper published in the medical journal The Lancet, a team of Irish researchers has confirmed, after studying it for six years, that the mesentery is its own continuous organ that serves a specific function in our digestive system.
‘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,’ said J Calvin Coffey, researcher from the University Hospital of Limerick, who first confirmed that the mesentery was a complete organ.
‘We can categorise abdominal disease in terms of this organ,’ he added.
The mesentery will now be studied in universities as another organ in the human body.
What remains to be seen is the organ’s specific function, other than supporting and irrigating the viscera. That’s the next question to be investigated by researchers.