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Cecum

Cecum
Superior ileocecal fossa. (Cecum labeled at bottom left.)
Gray's subject #249 1177
Precursor Midgut
MeSH Cecum
Dorlands/Elsevier c_01/12204134

The cecum or caecum (from the Latin caecus meaning blind) is a pouch connected to the ascending colon of the large intestine and the ileum. It is separated from the ileum by the ileocecal valve (ICV) or Bauhin's valve, and is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine. It is also separated from the colon by the cecocolic junction.

Variation across species

The cecum is present in mammals, and two ceca are present in birds, and some reptiles.

Most herbivores have a relatively large cecum, due to the large number of bacteria in the cecum of herbivores, which aid in the enzymatic breakdown of plant materials such as cellulose.

Exclusive carnivores, whose diets contain little or no plant material, have a reduced cecum, often partially or wholly replaced by the vermiform appendix.

Etymology

The term cecum comes from the Latin, meaning blind gut or cul de sac.

In dissections by the Greek philosophers, the connection between the ileum of the small intestines and the cecum was not fully understood. Most of the studies of the digestive tract were done on animals and the results were compared to human structures.

The junction between the small intestines and the colon, called the ileocecal valve, is so small in some animals that it was not considered to be a connection between the small and large intestines. During a dissection, the colon could be traced from the rectum, to the sigmoid colon, through the descending, transverse, and ascending sections. The colon seemed to dead-end into the cecum, or cul-de-sac.

However, the connection between the end of the small intestines, ileum, and the start of the colon, cecum are now clearly understood, but the name has not changed.

See also

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External links

The content of this section is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (local copy). It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cecum" modified May 8, 2007 with previous authors listed in its history.