The small intestine is a hollow intraperitoneal organ that develops from the distal foregut and midgut. It extends from the pylorus of the stomach to the ileocecal junction and is subdivided into the duodenum, the jejunum, and ileum. With the exception of the proximal duodenum, which is supplied by the celiac trunk, the main arterial supply for the small intestine is provided by branches of the superior mesenteric artery. The veins of the small intestine drain into the portal vein and the lymphatics eventually drain into the superior mesenteric and celiac lymph nodes. The small intestine is innervated by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, as well as the myenteric plexus and submucous plexus of the enteric nervous system. The mucosa of the small intestine contains many folds (i.e., plicae circulares, intestinal villi, and microvilli), which greatly increase its absorptive surface area. It also contains intestinal glands (crypts of Lieberkuhn) made up of enterocytes, which reabsorb nutrients, and other specialized cells of the small intestine (e.g., stem cells, Paneth cells, goblet cells, enteroendocrine cells). Pancreatic secretions and bile collect in the duodenum and break down chyme into sugars, amino acids, and fatty acids. Absorption of micronutrients and water predominantly occurs in the jejunum. Absorption of vitamin B12 and bile acids occurs in the terminal ileum.
- First and widest part of the small intestine
- C-shaped: surrounds the head of the pancreas
- Located mainly within the epigastric and umbilical regions of the abdomen
|Parts of the duodenum|
|Embryological origin||Important anatomy||Clinical significance|
|1st (Superior) part (duodenal bulb)|| || |
|2nd (Descending) part|
|3rd (Horizontal) part|| || |
|4th (Ascending) part|
- Second part of the small intestine
- Located mainly in the LUQ of the abdomen
- Final and narrowest part of the small intestine
- Located mainly in the RLQ of the abdomen
Separated from the large intestine at the ileocecal junction by the ileocecal valve:
- Muscular sphincter; that regulates the passage of fluid and nutrients from the ileum into the cecum and prohibits reflux
- Provides a mechanical barrier to bacterial migration into the small intestine
Vasculature, lymphatics, and innervation of the small intestine
|Lymphatics|| || |
Bowel obstruction is an interruption of the normal passage of bowel contents either due to a functional (e.g., ileus) or mechanical cause. Functional bowel obstruction, or paralytic ileus, occurs most commonly as a postoperative complication. Mechanical bowel obstruction of the small bowel occurs most commonly as a result of postoperative bowel adhesions.
The four histological layers of the small intestine are the same as the.
|Microscopic anatomy of the small intestine |
|Parts of the small intestine||Mucosa||Submucosa||Muscularis propria||Serosa|
|Duodenum|| || |
|Specialized cells of the small intestine|
|Cell||Secretory product||Location and characteristics||Function|
|Enterocytes|| || |
|G cells|| || || |
|D cells|| |
|I cells|| |
|S cells|| |
|K cells|| |
|Mo cells|| |
|Paneth cells|| |
|Goblet cells|| || || |
|Stem cells|| || || |
- Neutralization of acidic chyme
- Breakdown of food by digestive pancreatic enzymes and bile
- See also secretory and regulatory products of the gastrointestinal tract.
Jejunum and ileum
Absorption of water and nutrients by enterocytes
- Glucose and amino acids are cotransported with Na+ into enterocytes.
- Water is absorbed along the osmotic gradient created by the absorption of Na+.
- Bile acids emulsify fats to form micelles, which further breakdown fats into monoglycerides that are then absorbed by enterocytes.
- Most nutrients are absorbed in the jejunum.
- Vitamin B12 and bile salts are absorbed in the terminal ileum (i.e., enterohepatic circulation). Vitamin B12 must be bound to intrinsic factor to be absorbed.
- Immunity 
- Absorption of water and nutrients by enterocytes
Dude Is Just Feeling Ill, Bro: The Duodenum is the site of Iron (Fe2+) absorption. The Jejunum is the primary site of Folate absorption. The terminal Ileum is the site of vitamin B12 (dependent on intrinsic factor) and Bile salt absorption.
- Foregut: duodenum proximal to the major duodenal papilla
- Midgut: distal duodenum, jejunum, and ileum
- See “Embryology” in for further details.
Duodenal atresia occurs when the closed duodenum fails to recanalize during development. It is frequently accompanied by further anomalies, especially Down syndrome, and appears on abdominal x-ray as a double bubble sign.