Research Highlight

Evidence of a single gut mesentery

Knowledge of a continuous mesentery will simplify surgical approaches.

doi:10.1038/nindia.2020.20 Published online 4 February 2020

Grab from a video (below) providing evidence of a single gut mesentery.

© Kumar, A. et al.

For many years, scientists have debated whether the ‘gut mesentery’, a fan-shaped, double-layered membrane in the human abdominal cavity, is a single entity. Using a revised method of dissection, an international research team has now proved that it is1.

The researchers found a continuous mesentery along all parts of intestine and have presented an anatomical specimen description of the continuity of the membrane in unprecedented detail — extending from the duodenum, a part of the small intestine, to rectum, a part of large intestine.

This, they say, is the first ever anatomical description of a complete and intact mesentery. They have also provided a novel technique to dissect the intact mesentery which can be of immense use for anatomists and surgeons.

Attached to the posterior abdominal wall, the gut mesentery holds parts of small intestines and also contains blood vessels, nerves, lymph nodes and fat. Mesentery in humans was never known to exist in the duodenum. “Its discovery in the duodenum is a new addition in the discipline of human anatomy,” says lead author Ashutosh Kumar, a human anatomy expert at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Patna.

Knowledge of a continuous mesentery will simplify surgical approaches, Kumar says, as it will be easier to access a targeted part of the gut tube. "A safer route for traversing along the mesenteric plane will not only reduce the time for surgery but also the morbidity rates due to less chance of bleeding and intraoperative complications," he adds.

Immune cells in the mesentery play a role in pathogenesis of certain intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease.


1. Kumar, A. et al. Development of a novel technique to dissect the mesentery that preserves mesenteric continuity and enables characterization of the ex vivo mesentery. Front. Surg. (2020) doi: 10.3389/fsurg.2019.00080