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Small intestine

This diagram shows the small intestine. The different parts of the small intestine are labeled.
The three regions of the small intestine are the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.

The jejunum    is about 0.9 meters (3 feet) long (in life) and runs from the duodenum to the ileum. Jejunum means “empty” in Latin and supposedly was so named by the ancient Greeks who noticed it was always empty at death. No clear demarcation exists between the jejunum and the final segment of the small intestine, the ileum.

The ileum    is the longest part of the small intestine, measuring about 1.8 meters (6 feet) in length. It is thicker, more vascular, and has more developed mucosal folds than the jejunum. The ileum joins the cecum, the first portion of the large intestine, at the ileocecal sphincter    (or valve). The jejunum and ileum are tethered to the posterior abdominal wall by the mesentery. The large intestine frames these three parts of the small intestine.

Parasympathetic nerve fibers from the vagus nerve and sympathetic nerve fibers from the thoracic splanchnic nerve provide extrinsic innervation to the small intestine. The superior mesenteric artery is its main arterial supply. Veins run parallel to the arteries and drain into the superior mesenteric vein. Nutrient-rich blood from the small intestine is then carried to the liver via the hepatic portal vein.


The wall of the small intestine is composed of the same four layers typically present in the alimentary system. However, three features of the mucosa and submucosa are unique. These features, which increase the absorptive surface area of the small intestine more than 600-fold, include circular folds, villi, and microvilli ( [link] ). These adaptations are most abundant in the proximal two-thirds of the small intestine, where the majority of absorption occurs.

Histology of the small intestine

Illustration (a) shows the histological cross-section of the small intestine. The left panel shows a small region of the small intestine, along with the blood vessels and the muscle layers. The middle panel shows a magnified view of a small region of the small intestine, highlighting the absorptive cells, the lacteal and the goblet cells. The right panel shows a further magnified view of the epithelial cells including the microvilli. Illustrations (b) shows a micrograph of the circular folds, and illustration (c) shows a micrograph of the villi. Illustration (d) shows an electron micrograph of the microvilli.
(a) The absorptive surface of the small intestine is vastly enlarged by the presence of circular folds, villi, and microvilli. (b) Micrograph of the circular folds. (c) Micrograph of the villi. (d) Electron micrograph of the microvilli. From left to right, LM x 56, LM x 508, EM x 196,000. (credit b-d: Micrograph provided by the Regents of University of Michigan Medical School © 2012)

Circular folds

Also called a plica circulare, a circular fold    is a deep ridge in the mucosa and submucosa. Beginning near the proximal part of the duodenum and ending near the middle of the ileum, these folds facilitate absorption. Their shape causes the chyme to spiral, rather than move in a straight line, through the small intestine. Spiraling slows the movement of chyme and provides the time needed for nutrients to be fully absorbed.


Within the circular folds are small (0.5–1 mm long) hairlike vascularized projections called villi (singular = villus) that give the mucosa a furry texture. There are about 20 to 40 villi per square millimeter, increasing the surface area of the epithelium tremendously. The mucosal epithelium, primarily composed of absorptive cells, covers the villi. In addition to muscle and connective tissue to support its structure, each villus contains a capillary bed composed of one arteriole and one venule, as well as a lymphatic capillary called a lacteal    . The breakdown products of carbohydrates and proteins (sugars and amino acids) can enter the bloodstream directly, but lipid breakdown products are absorbed by the lacteals and transported to the bloodstream via the lymphatic system.

Questions & Answers

what are membranous epithelial tissues
Naa Reply
they are the lining and covering epithelial tissues which cover body surfaces and line cavities... they're grouped into simple and stratified according to the number of layers and squamous, cuboidal and columnar according to their shape
what is an acina
the study of tissues is called
Scandy Reply
microscopic or histology anatomy
What specific types of biological macromolecules do living things require and why?
Marieland Reply
what is partial pressure?
Tariq Reply
it is the pressure exerted by mixture of gases...
What is the Important of studying anatomy and philosophy
Michael Reply
because to know the mechanisms of our body
how many region do we have in human body
nsofor Reply
head thorax abdomen and many kind of...
what is principal ponatine nucleas
Human body can be divided into different regions on the basis of: 1. Systems: e.g. digestive system, respiratory system, excretory system etc.. 2. Parts: e.g. head, thorax, neck, upper limbs, lower limbs etc..
we have 9 region in d human body
what is systematic anatomy?
nsofor Reply
it is the anatomy or study of a certain body system for example the digestive system. or respiratory system.
It is a group of structure that work together to perform a unique function..
describe the division of anatomy and physiology
Vissa Reply
the what and the how
anatomy is the structure. physiology is the function.
what is homeostasis?
the balance if everything in your body
is the tendency of the body to maintain the internal environment
It is the ability of systems and living organisms to adjust its internal environment
how does a saggital plane look like and a frontal plane
susan Reply
saggital plane divides left and right.. frontal plane divides front and back.. I'm trying to upload a picture but idk how.
tnx sis
The sagittal plane is a vertical plane that divides the body into left and right anteriorly whilst the frontal plane divides the body into the posterior(back) and anterior(front) parts. They're all perpendicular to the transverse plane.
what is a neurones?
Angella Reply
how many systems are there in human
It is a cell that specialized to conduct nerve impulse
What is ovulation
Joy Reply
Ovulation is release of mature ovum from ovary
what is physiology
Firdaus Reply
The study of how e body systems or structures function and interrelate with each other
what is the composition of the ground substance?
Nana Reply
large carbohydrates and proteins which is known as acid mucopolysacchrides
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how does the negative feedback helps in maintaining body temperature at its normal range
I need good sites that I can test myself on chapters 1,3,4,5. I have an exam tomorrow
please can you kindly share your questions here after the exams please
What causes the banding pattern seen in the muscle fibril under the electron microscope
what organelles controls protein synthesis?
Katie Reply
hmm...the ribosomes?
are ribisomes made in the rRNA?
nop they are produced by cells of Nucleolus
Is there anything about nerve and muscle physiology?
AMEL Reply

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