Drawing of colon seen from front
(sigmoid colon coloured blue)
|Sigmoid arteries of inferior mesenteric artery|
|Inferior mesenteric ganglia and sacral nerve|
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.
- Coverings 1.1
- Innervation 1.2
- Relations 1.3
- Clinical significance 2
- Additional images 3
- References 4
- External links 5
The sigmoid colon 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.)
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 faeces simultaneously.
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.
Diverticulosis often occurs in the sigmoid colon in association with increased intraluminal pressure and focal weakness in the colonic wall. It is a common cause of hematochezia.
Volvulus occurs when a portion of the bowel twists around its mesentery, which can lead to obstruction and infarction. Volvulus in the elderly commonly occurs in the sigmoid colon, whereas in infants and children it is more likely to occur in the midgut.
- Physiology: 6/6ch2/s6ch2_30 - Essentials of Human Physiology
- Anatomy figure: 37:06-07 at Human Anatomy Online, SUNY Downstate Medical Center - "The large intestine."
- Superior & Inferior Mesenteric Artery at The Anatomy Lesson by Wesley Norman (Georgetown University)