Darwin suggested that the appendix was an organ that was a ‘left over’, unnecessary part of an organ that ‘evolved’ as we evolved. Another theory suggests that “the appendix is a storehouse for good bacteria, “rebooting” the digestive system after diarrheal illnesses.” In A Surgeon General’s Reflections, J. Warwick Glover makes a case for the appendix having vital function during infancy. According to Glover, the precise function of the appendix is still unclear; however with growing knowledge clarification of its function is becoming clearer. He explains this under the following headings: 1.
Embryological - Approximately the fifth week after conception a ‘bud’ at the point that the small and large intestines meet and quickly grow into a ‘pouch’. In the sixth week, the pouch develops a ‘nubbin’ that indicates rapid growth. The pouch is essentially placed near the highest point of the mid-gut loop. The fetal appendix has finger-like projections, called villi on the internal surface. Only around the time of birth, long ‘ribbons’ called taeniae begin to cause saclike dilation of the large bowel start to generate. 2.
Physiological – The chalice like cells that line the appendix are joined with the caecum and colon. They secrete a very distinct type antibacterial mucus in the bowel region. This acts as a protectant/immunity and as part of the bowel-blood barrier. 3.
Bacteriological – Secretion of antibodies from the cells within the appendix and the lymphoid follicles that cover the surface of the appendix would be contributors that resist necessary bacteria that reside in the caecum and colon in neonatal life. 4.
Biochemical - “One in three hundred or so appendectomy specimens contain a carcinoid tumor composed of a highly specialized type of cell rich in vaso-active peptides such as serotonin. The exact function of such agents in the entire bowel is still being elucidated, but the fact that the majority of such tumors occur within the appendix...
Cited: (2009). In WebMD. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/picture-of-the-appendix
Glover, J. W. (1988, April 1). The Human Vermiformation: A Surgeon General 's Reflections. In Answers in Genesis. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v3/n1/human-veriform-appendix
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