What Does The Human Appendix Do?
The appendix is a narrow, muscular, worm-shaped tube. One end is attached to the first part of the large intestine. The other end is closed and its position in the body can vary from person to person.An average adult appendix is about 4 inches (10cm) long, but can range in length from less than an inch up to 8 inches. Its diameter is usually about 1/3 inch (7-8mm).The function of the appendix is unknown.
Indigestible food moves from the small intestine into the appendix, and is then forced out again, as the appendix contracts its muscular walls, into the large intestine.
Because of this action, the most popular theory is that it was once used by primitive man to digest particularly tough foods, but is no longer required in modern man as we have a different diet.Scientists have also theorized that the appendix may have lympatic, exocrine, endocrine, or neuromuscular functions.The appendix can be surgically removed (appendectomy) without any known side effects. The usual reason for removal of the appendix is appendicitis, where the appendix becomes inflamed.
Recognizing & Treating Appendicitis
Location of the Appendix
Did You Know ... ?
- The Australian koala has an appendix which is over 6 foot or 2 metres long! This animal eats eucalyptus leaves, which it is thought are detoxified in its appendix.
- Most cases of appendicitis are in people aged between 8 and 25. It is rarely seen in children under 2 years old.
- According to Guinness world records, the longest appendix ever removed was 9.2 inches (23.5cm) in length, from a man in Pakistan in 2003.
- A person's age can be estimated by the appearance of the lymph nodules in the appendix. At birth, lymphoid nodules are not present; but by age 10 there are many throughout the mucosa of the appendix. After the age of 10, the lymphoid nodules gradually waste away. By the age of 40, the lymph nodules are barely visible.
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