You Wouldn’t Believe How Big Your Small Intestine Is

January 26, 2012 at 6:37 PM Leave a comment

It’s break time and here’s a fun fact that blew my mind:

Small Intestine

The small intestine is made up of three segments, which form a passage from your stomach (the opening between your stomach and small intestine is called the pylorus) to your large intestine:

  • Duodenum: This short section is the part of the small intestine that takes in semi-digested food from your stomach through the pylorus, and continues the digestion process. The duodenum also uses bile from your gallbladder, liver, and pancreas to help digest food.
  • Jejunum: The middle section of the small intestine carries food through rapidly, with wave-like muscle contractions, towards the ileum.
  • Ileum: This last section is the longest part of your small intestine. The ileum is where most of the nutrients from your food are absorbed before emptying into the large intestine.


How can the small intestine digest so much? Looking at the small intestine as a pipe, it seems hard to believe that an organ so narrow could do such a big job. However, looks can be deceiving. The absorptive surface area of the small intestine is actually about 250 square meters (almost 2,700 square feet) – the size of a tennis court!

That’s unimaginable.  But hey, who am I to question the people at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center?

Wow.  Just wow.



Entry filed under: Break Time.

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