LIMERICK, Ireland (KTRK) -- Your digestive system just got a new organ.
Scientists have long known about the mesentery, a structure that connects the intestine to the abdomen, but it has been considered a fragmented structure comprised of several different parts.
New research from a University of Limerick surgeon classifies the mesentery as its own organ, a move that could change the way doctors diagnose and treat abdominal disease.
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"Now we have established anatomy and the structure. The next step is the function," Professor J Calvin Coffey said in a news release.
"If you understand the function, you can identify abnormal function, and then you have disease. Put them all together and you have the field of mesenteric science...the basis for a whole new area of science," he added.
Classifying the mesentery as a separate organ could help make surgeries less invasive and improve patient recovery times.
The new research has even prompted an update to the Gray's Anatomy textbook.
Meet the mesentery, the organ you never knew you had