The Physics
Factbook
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Length of a Human Intestine

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
Curtis, Helen. Barnes, N. Fifth Edition Biology. Worth, 1999: 544. "Consider the human lung, constantly expanding and contracting in the chest cavity, or the 6 or 7 meters of coiled human intestine; neither of these could have evolved before the coelom." 6–7 m
(whole intestine)
"Intestine." World Book Encyclopedia Millennium 2000. Chicago: World Book, 2000: 353. "The large intestine is about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and is made up of the cecum; the ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid portions of the colon; and the rectum." 1.5 m
(large intestine)
Avraham, Regina. The Digestive System. Chelsea House, 2000: 52. "It [the small intestine] is about 18 to 21 feet long and has a diameter of about 1 1/2 inches." 5.5–6.4 m
(small intestine)
Gray, Henry. The Anatomy of the Human Body. Lea & Febinger, 1985: 1478. "The large intestine extends from the ileum to the anus. It is about 1.5 meters long, being one-fifth of the whole extent of the intestinal canal." 1.5 m
(large intestine)
"Intestine." Encyclopedia Americana. Danbury, CT: Grolier, 1999: 323. "The small intestine is about 23 feet (7 meters) long and consists of three subdivisions." 7.0 m
(small intestine)

The human intestine is a necessary part of the digestive system. The human digestive system consists of the mouth, the throat (pharynx), the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestine. Specifically, the human intestine consists of two parts, the small intestine and the large intestine.

The small intestine is a long, narrow, coiled tube extending from the stomach to the large intestine. This is the place where most digestion and absorption of food takes place. The small intestine of a human can be as long as six to eight meters long, depending on age and size of being. So much length can be compacted into so little space because of the nature of the small intestine; it is coiled and takes up less space, while maintaining it's enormous surface area.

The large intestine is the posterior or end of the human intestine that consists of four regions the, the cecum, the colon, the rectum and the anal canal. The large intestine is wider but shorter than the small intestine. It measures approximately 1.5 meters in length and its primary function is to absorb water and electrolytes that have already passed unabsorbed through the small intestine.

In mathematics, as well as physics, the value of the whole is equal to the sum of its parts. Therefore the average length of the human intestine is equal to the length of the small intestine added to the length of the large intestine. As a result the average length of the human intestine can be anywhere from 6 to 8.5 meters in length depending on size and age of the person it occupies.

Anne Marie Thomasino -- 2001