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Ileum

German: Ileum

1 Definition

The ileum is the distal section of the small intestines that joins the cecum and, thereby, the large intestines in the area of the ileocecal valve.

2 Anatomy

The ileum follows the jejunum on the distal side. It is approximately three meters long. It is suspended in the abdomen on the mesenteries, and it is supplied with blood via the iliac arteries of the superior mesenteric artery.

There is no clear separation line between ileum and jejunum, but a continuous transition. The differences between the two intestinal sections are hardly noticeable. The aspect of the ileum is slightly paler, and the diameter is lower. Furthermore, there is a little more adipose tissue in the mesentery of the ileum. The most noticeable difference, however, are the Peyer's patches abundantly present in the ileum.

3 Histology

In the microscopic specimen, the ileum is characterized by the delicate layering of the wall typical for the intestinal tract. Special characteristics of the ileum are flat, rare circular folds and numerous lymphatic secondary follicles, the so-called Peyerís patches.

4 Physiology

The ileum, as the complete small intestines, takes part in the absorption of the substances taken in with food. It foremost is responsible for the components of digestions that could not be absorbed in the preceding jejunum. In its distal sections, bile acids and cobalamin are absorbed from the lumen.

The pH level of the ileum lies in the neutral to slightly alkaline area (pH 7-8).

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