The appendix or appendix is a small organ similar to a small bag extending about 5-10 cm and attached to the large intestine. The appendix is located at the right bottom of the abdomen. If you experience pain in this section, especially if it is suppressed, it is most likely the cause of inflammation of the appendix (appendicitis). The appendix, which is shaped like a finger and sometimes called a tassel, attaches to one part of the large intestine called the cecum.
What is the function of the appendix?
Although attached to the large intestine, appendicitis does not help the digestive process directly. Organs in the human digestive tract extend from the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine to rectum. Food that enters the digestive tract will be processed along the digestive tract with the help of hormones and enzymes produced in it.
From the long process of food digestion, there is no role for appendicitis. Until now scientists and experts do not know for sure the main function of the appendix as an organ. Lifting this organ also does not cause negative consequences on health.
Over the years, some experts believe that the appendix is a vestigial organ, which is an organ that loses all or part of its function through centuries of evolutionary processes. In addition, this organ is also not possessed by animals, except primates and humans.
According to research, the cecum of herbivorous mammals is larger than human cecum. From this fact, world scientist Charles Darwin issued a theory that our ancestors also had large cecum, so that they could consume leaves like herbivores in general.
However, some time later, our ancestors changed their diet to being fruit-based, which is easier to digest. This is the cause of human cecum to shrink too. Darwin concluded that he believed appendicitis was only part of the cecum that had shrunk and had not disappeared completely in the evolutionary process.
The 'Safe House' Appendix Theory
Some experts believe that appendicitis is not an organ that has no function, but to help recovery after after an illness or infection in the gastrointestinal tract. The appendix contains tissues related to the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system itself functions to bring white blood cells to fight infection.
In recent years, scientists have discovered that limpatic tissue triggers the growth of bacteria that are beneficial for intestinal health . This is very important in the digestive process and human immunity. Research also shows that the stomach intestinal wall contains biofilms, which are thin layers of microbes, mucus, and become an important part of the immune system . According to the study, this biofilm mostly stays in the appendix.
So, according to the theory of 'safe house', appendicitis protects a number of good bacteria in the intestine when there is a disease in the gastrointestinal tract such as diarrhea which threatens the presence of good bacteria. Once the immune system has managed to fight infection and the disease is cured, bacteria that hide in the appendix will come out and regain control of the intestine.
So, appendicitis is not an organ that has no function. Although it is not too significant compared to other body organs and does not cause a negative impact if removed, the appendix still functions important to help the health of the gastrointestinal tract, so that the process of digestion and absorption of food is smooth.