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The Large Intestine


Major Spencer
The large intestine, or colon, changes waste products of the digestive process into stool. Dr. Jerman, can you tell us more about the colon?

Dr. Jerman
Of course, Major Spencer. The cecum, located in the lower right abdomen, is the first part of the colon, where it connects to the small intestine. Waste products, including undigested parts of food and older cells from the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract lining, enter the cecum from the small intestine.

Muscles push these waste products through the different parts of the colon in wave-like contractions. This movement is called peristalsis.

After the cecum, waste moves through the ascending colon, which travels up the right side of the abdomen. Next, the waste goes through the transverse colon, which runs across the abdomen. The descending colon, which travels down the left side of the abdomen, is the next part. Finally, waste passes through a short curving of the colon, called the sigmoid colon, into the rectum.

As waste products travel through these sections, the colon absorbs water, salt, and some residual nutrients, changing the waste from liquid into solid matter, called stool.

The rectum stores stool until it passes out of the body through the anus during a bowel movement.