Click one of the links on the left to display a diagram and description of that part of the abdomen
The lowest part of the gut, about 4cm long. The faeces (stools) pass through this during the process of opening the bowels (defaecation).
Part of the large intestine or large bowel. Extends from the caecum (where the small bowel joins the large bowel) to the rectum. Involved mainly with salt and water reabsorption.
The lower part of the large intestine or large bowel. Extends from the colon to the anus. Acts as a reservoir for the faeces (stools) before the bowels are opened (defaecation).
Part of the large bowel between the rectum and the descending colon. It is the main site affected in most patients with diverticular disease. It can descend into the pelvis as part of the spectrum of prolapse when it becomes known as a sigmoidocoele.
Part of the gut extending from the stomach and duodenum to the colon (large bowel). The small bowel is the part of the gastrointestinal tract that is most involved with digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. When it descends into the pelvis as part of the spectrum of prolapse, usually between the vagina and rectum from above, it becomes known as an enterocoele.
Organ that stores the urine before it is expelled to the outside during the process of urination. When it descends into the pelvis as part of the spectrum of prolapse, bulging into the front wall of the vagina, it is known as a cystocoele.
Also known as the womb. It is the organ in which babies grow and develop during pregnancy. During a hysterectomy, this organ is removed, sometimes with and sometimes without the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
The muscular tube running from the outside to the uterus. At the top of the vagina at the entrance to the uterus, lies the cervix. When a hysterectomy is performed the cervix may or may not be removed. The vagina is then stitched closed.
Part of the muscle around the anal canal that is involved with continence (ie �the ability to hold on to stools until a socially acceptable time�). It is sometimes damaged during childbirth and this damage is one of the causes of incontinence. The external anal sphincter is important in providing an extra boost of muscle power when a person coughs or lifts something heavy to ensure that the anal canal stays closed.
Part of the muscle around the anal canal that is involved with continence (ie �the ability to hold on to stools until a socially acceptable time�). It is sometimes damaged during childbirth and this damage is one of the causes of incontinence. The internal anal sphincter is important in keeping the anal canal closed on a day to day, minute by minute basis. It is made of special muscle fibres adapted for this job that do not fatigue or get tired.
The pelvic floor is a sheet of muscle which closes in the pelvis from below. The major pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, rectum) �sit� on this sheet. It is pierced by the anal canal/rectum, the vagina and the urethra (taking urine from the bladder to the outside). When the pelvic floor is damaged, as may occur during childbirth, patients may develop incontinence and the organs may slip further down into the pelvis causing prolapse.