the original kStyle blog.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Let's Clear This Up

Both the gallbladder and the appendix have known functions in Western medicine. The gallbladder stores and secretes bile, a substance made by the liver and used to digest fats. The appendix is at the inferior end of the ascending colon. It is similar to a lymph node, helping with immunity by clearing out bad nasties going through the large intestine. Appendicitis occurs when the Bad Nasties get caught in the appendix and cause inflammation. Your appendix is about the size and shape of your little finger. Its small, narrow shape makes it vulnerable to blockage and therefore inflammation.

Thank you.


Blogger Eric said...

Did you write this in response to someone's saying otherwise, or just to the general perception that both these organs are unnecessary?

(Disclosing a conflict of interest: my gallbladder was surgically removed two years ago, so I'm predisposed toward believing it wasn't crucial. Please don't tell me I need it after all. I'm pretty sure they threw it away...)

4:35 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I wonder how many body parts you could take out and still be a reasonably functional human being. A relative of mine is minus a chunk of his intestine (can't remember which one); some people have pieces of their stomachs removed or closed off. I suppose both lungs are relatively necessary. What about the liver?

I saw NOVA's "The Universe Within" from the early 1990s recently. The images were fascinating. One of the organs--I think the stomach--did this sort of constant rolling thing. I didn't know stomachs roll. And I didn't know that there's actually such a thing as bile.

The human body is so complicated and amazing. And it does what it does all by itself! The healthy heart beats regularly for more than seventy years! Isn't that weird? Cars don't even last seventy years.

The NOVA program also talked about the reproductive system. My favorite part was the cervix.

5:48 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

One of my coworkers needs her gallbladder revoed, and I was subject to an inane conversation (not that the question of obscure organs' function is inane, but the conversation was: sales reps) about how the gallbladder doesn't do anything--oh wait is that the appendix that doesn't do anything--but isn't the gallbladder just useless, too?--until I chimed in to defend the little troopers, at which point one conversant expressed disgust at the functions of her very own organs (it was interfering with her enjoyment of cake, but good luck digesting that without your gallbladder) and another was weirdly awed that I would know such a thing.

The human body is remarkably adaptable and can make do without many organs. For example, I believe the liver takes on some of the gallbladder's function when the gallbladder is removed, BUT that doesn't mean it's a good idea to just cut organs out willy-nilly. It taxes the system.

That NOVA special sounds cool, Ann. Tell me more about the cervix. I'm not sure what its purpose is, really.

7:12 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

PS but appendicitis is a good reason to remove the appendix.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

IIRC, one can also manage without a spleen--they remove it when it gets damaged, and with Hodgkins Disease (or they used to, in the latter case). Oddly enough, over at Flea's place, there's a letter in her mailbag about a woman who doesn't have a vagina or uterus (but does have a clitoris), something that occurs to about 1 in 5,000 women. And wisdom teeth--we can definitely do without those.

But I'm still a little taken aback that someone thought the gallbladder didn't do anything.

10:47 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Yeah, we can manage without the spleen, but it's still a good organ to have. Blood cells and all.

Wow, no vagina or uterus, but a clitoris. The human body is an endless surprise.

9:56 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Ann, you asked about the liver. It is possible to remove a diseased lobe or two, but I don't think a person could survive without any liver.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

From what I understand, the female reproductive system is a castle, and the cervix is the outer castle wall. So the maurading sperm storm the castle and the cervix says, "No freakin' way are you getting in here," and they don't. And I like how, OK, the sperm are active and the egg is passive, but the cervix kicks some serious ass. And then there are the protective cells--I think of them as nuns or nurses--that get ejected out of an ovary along with an egg every month and deter fertilization, too. Really, it's amazing that women get pregnant at all.

None of this was actually in the program, but that's what I got out of it.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Wow. I wish I had a cervix.

8:45 AM  

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