New digestive organ discovered
The mesentery, known for over a 100 years as a fragmented structure consisting of separate parts, has been classified as the body's 79th organ.
It is a double fold of connective tissue arising from the peritoneum - the membrane lining the abdominal cavity - that connects the stomach, small intestine, pancreas, spleen and other organs to the posterior abdominal wall.
Evidence of the mesentery as an organ was found by Dr J. Calvin Coffey, a professor of surgery at the University of Limerick in Ireland.
In his findings outlined in The Lancet Gstroenterology & Hepatology in November, Dr Coffey argued that "mesenteric science" should be its own specialised field of medical study.
The mesentery's exact function is still unknown - it is the next step for scientists to study now that the organ's structure and anatomy is defined.With a new anatomic model, many diseases can be reinterpreted, said Dr Coffey.