Large Intestine (Introduction)
The large intestine is part of the digestive system and is located in the lower area of the abdomen within the large membrane known as the peritoneum (which has 2 layers separated by a small amount of liquid, enabling the organs contained within it to move freely over and around each other). The large intestines begin at the bottom of the abdomen, where material is received from the ileum, which is the final part of the small intestine.
The large intestine consists of the cecum (sometimes written caecum), the colon (which consists of 4 parts), and the rectum. Hence, in common with the small intestines, the large intestines can also be described in three parts:
- The cecum is the first part of the large intestine and so receives material from the ileum.
- The second part of the large intestines is the colon, which initially rises upwards within the abdomen (ascending colon), then moves across the body beneath the liver and stomach (transverse colon), then finally passes downwards back to the lower abdomen (descending colon).
- The third part of the large intestines is the rectum which is located in the approx. centre of the lower abdomen.
The large intestine can be described using diagrams - see the simple diagram of the large intestine below to understand the flow of material through the large intestine. For more detail see the labelled diagram of the large intestine.
Simple Diagram of the Large Intestine (main structures and flow only)
This diagram is interactive - click on a text label (indicated in green) for more information about that topic, on another page.
Large Intestine Knowledge Checklist:
The large intestine is one of the organs in the human body.
- Which body system is the large intestine part of ?
Answer: The Digestive System
- Describe the location of the large intestine in the human body.
Answer: The lower area of the abdomen within the peritoneum
- Describe with the aid of a diagram the structure of the large intestine ... which is the same as:
Describe with the aid of a diagram the anatomy of the large intestine.
Answer: See diagram of the large intestine
- What are the functions of the large intestine ?
Answer: See functions of the large intestine
Depending on the level of study, students may be expected to have more detailed knowledge of how the large intestine works.
See also the small intestine and a more detailed diagram of the large intestine.