Skip to main content

Located in the abdominal cavity and surrounding the small intestine, its shape is similar to a soccer goal (with three important axes), the large intestine constitutes the following phase of the digestive tract.  It is a wavy pipe, of 1,5 meters in length, and 10 centimeters thick, where water and minerals are absorbed from the substances which are not yet digested.

Its internal mucosa does not have folds or intestinal villi, but is made up of a series of mucus glands, absorbent cells and lymphatic follicles, that assist the digestive process.

It also has, on its external part, a series of muscle fibers that ease the contractions that lead feces to the outside of the body. The large intestine connects with the small intestine through the ileocecal valve or sphincter, which acts as a regulator for the passage of substances between one intestinal section to another. This muscle ring considerably reduces the emptying strength of the residues coming from the small intestine, preventing backflow.

The large intestine is slit into five stretches. The first of them is the cecum, with a shape similar to a small pouch (of no more than 10 centimeters wide), from which a portion of tissue called appendix hangs.

Next, traveling upwards through the right side of the abdominal cavity we find the ascending colon, some 20 centimeters long, followed by the transverse colon, which goes through the abdominal cavity from right to left, under the liver and spleen. The intestinal tube continues its way, this time through the left side, from up to down, receiving the name of descending colon. It is here where the feces are consolidated and accumulated before being eliminated. At the height of the pelvis we find the next intestinal portion, the sigmoid colon or sigma (called so due to its S shape), which allows the passage of gases, without pushing the feces. At the end of the large intestine we find the rectum, around the sacrum bone, connected directly with the anus, orifice through which bodily wastes are discharged.