Anatomy Of The Small Intestines

a. The small intestines are classically divided into three areas-- the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. The duodenum is C-shaped, about 10 inches long in the adult. The duodenum is looped around the pancreas.

DUODENUM = 12 fingers (length equal to width of 12 fingers)

The jejunum is approximately eight feet long and connects the duodenum and ileum. The ileum is about 12 feet long. The jejunum and ileum are attached to the rear wall of the abdomen with a membrane called a mesentery. This membrane allows mobility and serves as a passageway for nerves and vessels (NAVL) to the small intestines.

JEJUNUM = empty

ILEUM = lying next to the ilium (bone of the pelvic girdle; PELVIS = basin)

b. The small intestine is tubular. It has muscular walls which produce a wave-like motion called peristalsis moving the contents along. The small intestine is just the right length to allow the processes of digestion and absorption to take place completely.

c. The inner surface of the small intestine is NOT smooth like the inside of new plumbing pipes. Rather, the inner surface has folds (plicae). On the surface of these plicae are finger-like projections called villi (villus, singular). This folding and the presence of villi increase the surface area available for absorption.

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