The digestive system breaks down and digests the food and drink you consume in order to extract nutrients and energy for your body. It consists of the gastrointestinal tract and the digestive organs, all the way from the mouth to the anus.
A human cannot survive without certain parts of the digestive system. However, humans can now continue to live without a natural stomach or large intestine or other organs, thanks to advances in medicine and technology – such as the colostomy and the ileostomy.
What Digestive Organs Can I Live Without?
Let’s talk about the parts of the digestive system that are routinely removed, and not replaced or rerouted, by gastroenterologists:
The appendix is located in the lower right-hand side of the abdomen. The function of the appendix is still not completely known, although evidence from recent studies have led some scientists to believe that the appendix may be a storehouse for good bacteria.
Even if that is the case, the appendix tends to be a liability for humans since it can become infected with lethal inflammation. Patients with appendicitis experience severe abdominal pain, and doctors will remove the appendix and administer or prescribe antibiotics. If an infected appendix is not removed, it can burst and become a life-threatening infection in the body.
The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ located in the upper-right area of the abdomen. It stores bile that the liver produces to break down the fats in your food.
However, when the liver makes more bile than the gallbladder can handle, gallstones develop. These cause a blockage that causes pain.
A cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder. You won’t even notice anything different about your body; without the gallbladder, the bile just goes directly into the small intestine.
The spleen is located in the upper left-hand area of the abdomen, and its function is to filter out old blood cells, produce white blood cells to fight against infections, and store red blood cells for clotting.
The spleen can become enlarged – and when this happens, surgical removal may be recommended. An enlarged or damaged spleen can lead to infections, bleeding, and rupture. A ruptured spleen can cause fatal internal abdominal bleeding.
The pancreas is located behind your stomach. It releases enzymes that break down food, and hormones such as insulin to convert glucose into energy.
Patients with pancreatic cancer or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) may need to have their pancreas removed. If the pancreas is removed, the patient will need to rely on insulin injections to regulate their blood sugar and prevent diabetes.
Top Gastroenterologists in Central Pennsylvania
Our board-certified gastroenterologists at Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates can diagnose and treat all problems affecting the digestive system, from upper GI to lower GI tract disorders and liver disorders. We are proud of the superior patient experience we provide in our state-of-the-art endoscopy center, and we also often perform colonoscopies and stomach tests for GERD and acid reflux issues.
We have been serving our community in central Pennsylvania for over 25 years, and we were even voted “The Best Medical Specialists in Cumberland County.” To schedule a consultation with one of our outstanding gastroenterologists, call (717) 245-2228 or request an appointment now via our online form. We look forward to serving you!