The human abdomen is a heavily compartmentalised body region, both providing structure and boundaries to the organs and tissues it contains, and enabling the accurate identification of a wide range of pathologies that can affect the area. To better understand the abdomen and its many functions, it is important to first understand its anatomy. This article will detail the main areas of the abdomen and their individual roles.
The abdominal (peritoneal) cavity is the most anterior and central part of the abdominal region, and it is generally filled with only a small amount of peritoneal fluid. However, it still provides a potential space for the containment of certain pathologies, and depending on gender, the abdominal cavity can be sub-divided into further areas.
Calot’s triangle is a small anatomical area within the abdomen, found where the hepatic ducts and associated neurovascular structures enter and exit the liver. Its purpose is to contain the arteries and lymphatics found in the area.
The peritoneum is a membrane that lines the entire abdominal cavity, and more specifically covers all of the abdominal organs (viscera). It provides pathways for both blood vessels and lymph to travel to and from the viscera, and ultimately protects these organs.
The inguinal canal is an area located in the inferior part of the abdominal wall. It is the pathway that allows for the passage of structures through the abdomen, while it also serves as a potential point of weakness that can lead to the herniation of abdominal contents.
Hesselbach’s triangle (the inguinal triangle) is an area in the anterior abdominal wall that has a similar purpose to the inguinal canal; it is an area of potential weakness, through which herniation of abdominal contents can occur.
As outlined, the abdomen is formed up of several distinct areas, each of which is responsible for a range of functions. Knowing the anatomy of the abdomen is essential for understanding the potential issues and pathologies that can arise in the region.
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