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Human intestine

What is the Intestine?

The intestine is the portion of the digestive tract between the stomach and the anus. It is divided into two major sections: small intestine and large intestine.

The small intestine is about 6 meters (20 feet) long. It is coiled in the center of the abdominal cavity (see picture). The small intestine is divided into 3 sections: upper, jejunum, and ileum. The lining of the small intestine secretes a hormone called secretin, which stimulates the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes.

The large intestine has a larger width but is only 1.5 meters (5 feet) long. The large intestine is divided into 6 parts: cecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, and rectum.

Major function of Intestines

The small and large intestines perform different functions. The small intestine is where the most extensive part of digestion occurs. Most food products are absorbed in the small intestine. The large intestine is responsible for absorption of water and excretion of solid waste material. Food and waste material are moved along the length of the intestine by rhythmic contractions of intestinal muscles; these contractions are called peristaltic movements. Waste is solid because most of the water has been removed by the intestines as it travels through them.

If the intestines are not working properly, green stool, Crohn's disease, constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or Tapeworms may be present.

Sometimes the intestine can protrude through an abnormal opening in the body and cause a hernia.

Body Location of the Intestines

To look at the intestine in relation to other organs in the body, visit the digestive system


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