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What is caecum? Describe its function.

Last updated date: 24th Jul 2024
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Hint: The caecum is known to be the beginning of the small intestine and is located on the right side of the body similar to the appendix. The word caecum has originated from the Latin word caecus that means blind.

Complete answer:
Both the caecum and the appendix are formed due to the enlargement of the post arterial segment of the midgut loop. Its lateral wall grows much more rapidly than the medial wall as a result of which the appendix is known to lie on the medial side. The function of the caecum in humans is to receive the chyme which is the semi-fluid mass of partially digested food which is released from the stomach after the action of the stomach acids and absorb salts and electrolytes and also lubricate the digested mass of food as it passes on to the large intestine. It is connected to the ascending colon of the large intestine and separated from the ileum by the ileocecal valve also known as the Bauhin’s valve. In herbivores the caecum helps in the enzymatic breakdown of cellulosic materials as they consist of a wide range of bacteria which secrete essential enzymes and the size of the caecum in them is also larger than that found in humans and other carnivores.

Note: Thus the caecum plays an important role in the digestion of food. Disease related to caecum can be development of carcinoid tumor and neutropenic enterocolitis also known as typhlitis which causes inflammation of the caecum as a result of bacterial infections.