Sigmoid flexure

Sigmoid colon
Drawing of colon seen from front
(sigmoid colon coloured blue)
Front of abdomen, showing surface markings for liver, stomach and large intestine
Latin Colon sigmoideum
Gray's subject #249 1182
Artery Sigmoid arteries
Nerve Inferior mesenteric ganglia and sacral nerve [1]
Precursor Hindgut

The sigmoid colon (pelvic colon) is the part of the large intestine that is closest to the rectum and anus. It forms a loop that averages about 40 cm in length, and normally lies within the pelvis, but on account of its freedom of movement it is liable to be displaced into the abdominal cavity.

Path

It begins at the superior aperture of the lesser pelvis, where it is continuous with the iliac colon, and passes transversely across the front of the sacrum to the right side of the pelvis. (The name sigmoid aptly means S-shaped.)

It then curves on itself and turns toward the left to reach the middle line at the level of the third piece of the sacrum, where it bends downward and ends in the rectum.

Its function is to expel solid and gaseous waste from the gastrointestinal tract. The curving path it takes toward the anus allows it to store gas in the superior arched portion, enabling the colon to expel gas without excreting feces simultaneously.

Coverings

It is completely surrounded by peritoneum (and thus is not retroperitoneal), which forms a mesentery (sigmoid mesocolon), which diminishes in length from the center toward the ends of the loop, where it disappears, so that the loop is fixed at its junctions with the iliac colon and rectum, but enjoys a considerable range of movement in its central portion.

Innervation

Pelvic splanchnic nerves are the primary source for parasympathetic innervation. Lumbar splanchnic nerves provide sympathetic innervation via the inferior mesenteric ganglion.

Relations

Behind the sigmoid colon are the external iliac vessels, the left Piriformis, and left sacral plexus of nerves.

In front, it is separated from the bladder in the male, and the uterus in the female, by some coils of the small intestine.

Additional images

References

This article incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy.

External links

  • eMedicine Dictionary
  • 37:06-07 - "The large intestine."
  • Georgetown University)
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