How do your internal organs stay in place? — David, Carletonville, South Africa
Marshall Brain Answers:
It’s a good question. For example, you can think of your small intestine as a super-flexible tube that is about 20 feet long. Your large intestine is another, bigger tube about 3 feet long. What holds them in place so they don’t all tangle together and fall to the bottom of your abdomen? Your liver is a pretty big thing weighing almost 5 pounds in an adult. Why doesn’t it fall on top of the pile of intestines? Especially when you are jumping on a trampoline.
The thing in your abdomen that helps keep everything in place is called the Mesentery. While keeping things in place, the Mesentery also handles the blood supply for the intestines.
The Peritoneum is a lining on the inside of the abdomen and on the outside of organs like the intestines and liver. It’s sort of like a thin internal skin. Between this lining of the abdomen and the intestines, as well as between the loops of intestine, is the thin connective tissue called Mesentery. Embedded in it are blood vessels, lymph vessels and nerves – in addition to keeping everything in place, this connective tissue is also where the intestines get their blood supply. The liver has its own arterial blood supply, but has Mesentery that hold it in place. All the abdominal organs use this connective tissue.
Like anything else, you can have problems with your Mesentery, as seen in this video which describes Mesenteric Ischemia:
See also: The Digestive System