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What does the appendix do?

My cousin just got her appendix removed. Do people need an appendix? What does it do?

5139 day(s) ago

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The appendix, also known as the vermiform appendix, cecal appendix, or vermix, is a small, tube-like organ located in the cecum, at the end of the ascending colon, where the small intestine meets the large intestine. The word vermiform is from the Latin, and it means worm-shaped. The appendix ranges in length from 2 20 cm with a diameter of 7-8 mm.

Although a ruptured appendix can cause severe infection leading to death, those who have their appendix removed go on to live otherwise normal lives. The appendix is called a vestigial organ because it is believed to have once been used in digestion, but it has since lost its function in human beings. Charles Darwin believed the appendix was used to aid in the digestion of leaves and was much larger in our primate ancestors. In other herbivorous animals, the appendix plays host to colonies of bacteria that help break down the cellulose of excessive foliage. Some scientists claim the appendix in humans has taken on secondary characteristics as a lymphatic organ. While the appendix is rich in lymph cells, no proof exists that it helps the immune system. Other researchers have found that the appendix can act as protection against the body losing useful bacteria that in aid in digestion. They theorize that the occurrence of diarrhea in unsanitary conditions could cause the loss of useful bacteria, but the appendix acts as a haven so the bacteria can multiply and later re-colonize the colon.

Appendicitis is a common condition in which the appendix becomes inflamed. It causes great pain in the center of the abdomen spreading to the right, lower side. If left untreated, the appendix can rupture, leading to shock and death.

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