The ileum: paste, pro­tec­tion and patches

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Dr Adam Taor

What is it?

Part of our small in­tes­tine, which is ‘‘ small’’ be­cause it is nar­rower than our large bowel. The small in­tes­tine is, how­ever, very long and made up of the duo­de­num, je­junum, and the two- to three-me­tre ileum.

What does it do?

It mixes food and pushes it along, while ab­sorb­ing wa­ter and nu­tri­ents, es­pe­cially fats and bile salts. Food in the ileum is usu­ally a pasty con­sis­tency.

Why the name?

Ileum is from the Greek word for twisted, as in coiled, which this long tube needs to be to fit inside our belly.

How does it pro­tect us?

Just as our skin is ex­posed to the out­side world, so is the inside of our guts (through the mouth and bot­tom), which means it’s a breed­ing ground for mi­cro-or­gan­isms. To help deal with them, the ileum’s wall con­tains lots of pro­tec­tive im­mune cells, housed in places called Peyer’s patches.

Il­lus­tra­tion: Nathalie Gar­cia

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.