J. Calvin Coffey, PhD, of Ireland-based University of Limerick, argues that a structure in the digestive system should be classified as a new organ.
Here's what you need to know about the structure, called the mesentery:
1. The mesentery, which connects the intestine to the abdomen, is not a new discovery — however, it has traditionally been considered a fragmented structure made up of separate parts.
2. Dr. Coffey's research, however, has found that the mesentery is actually one continuous structure.
3. Dr. Coffey's research led the medical textbook Gray's Anatomy to update its discussion of the mesentery; the 41st and most recent edition notes that the structure is continuous, according to the Washington Post.
4. In an article published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Dr. Coffey outlines how the mesentery should be categorized as its own organ, due to "distinctive anatomical and functional features."
5. Dr. Coffey says categorizing the mesentery as an organ would encourage further scientific investigation into the structure, which he says could lead to less invasive surgeries, fewer complications, faster patient recovery and lower overall costs.
"The anatomic description that had been laid down over 100 years of anatomy was incorrect," Dr. Coffey said. "This organ is far from fragmented and complex. It is simply one continuous structure."