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Irish professor set to change medical science as he discovers new organ in human body

25.10.2016 Prof. Calvin Coffey, Deputy Director and Member of Executive Management Committee. Professor of Surgery, Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick and Consultant Surgeon, Health Services Executive. Picture: Alan Place
Professor J Calvin Coffey discovered the new human organ at the University of Limerick. (Picture: Alan Place)

AN IRISH professor has discovered a new organ in the human body.

The discovery by the University of Limerick (UL) medical expert could change medical science and help to avoid invasive surgeries, a study has said.

The ‘mesentery’ organ was previously thought to have been fragments of the digestive system, but UL Professor of Surgery J Calvin Coffey has identified the emerging area and reclassified the fragments as a developed organ.

The mesentery, which connects the intestine to the abdomen, had for hundreds of years been considered a fragmented structure made up of multiple separate parts.

But, research by Professor Coffey, found the mesentery is one continuous structure.

In a review published in medical journal The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Professor Coffey outlined the evidence for categorising the mesentery as an organ.

“In the paper, which has been peer reviewed and assessed, we are now saying we have an organ in the body which hasn’t been acknowledged as such to date,” Professor Coffey stated.

Better understanding and further scientific study of the mesentery could lead to less invasive surgeries, fewer complications, faster patient recovery and lower overall costs.

“When we approach it like every other organ we can categorise abdominal disease in terms of this organ,” Professor Coffey said.

Better understanding of the mesentery could lead to less invasive surgeries, fewer complications, faster patient recovery, and lower overall costs.

According to Professor Coffey, the Foundation Chair of Surgery at UL’s Graduate Entry Medical School and University Hospitals Limerick, mesenteric science is its own specific field of medical study in the same way as gastroenterology, neurology and coloproctology.

“This is relevant universally as it affects all of us. Up to now there was no such field as mesenteric science. Now we have established anatomy and the structure.

“The next step is the function. If you understand the function you can identify abnormal function, and then you have disease. Put them all together and you have the field of mesenteric science…the basis for a whole new area of science,” he said.

“During the initial research, we noticed in particular that the mesentery, which connects the gut to the body, was one continuous organ.

“Up to that it was regarded as fragmented, present here, absent elsewhere and a very complex structure. The anatomic description that had been laid down over 100 years of anatomy was incorrect.

“This organ is far from fragmented and complex. It is simply one continuous structure,” Professor Coffey explained.

Kelly Bar – MPU – January

Erica Doyle Higgins

Erica Doyle Higgins is a Digital Reporter with The Irish Post. You can follow her on Twitter @EDoyleHiggins

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