The Large Intestine

The large intestine is a tube-like organ that is connected to the small intestine at one end and the anus at the other. The large intestine has four parts: cecum, colon, rectum, and anal canal. Partly digested food moves through the cecum into the colon, where water and some nutrients and electrolytes are removed. The remaining material, solid waste called stool, moves through the colon, is stored in the rectum, and leaves the body through the anal canal and anus. This is not essential to life but it sure makes life easier!


The colon is responsible for reabsorption of 1.0 to 1.5 liters of electrolyte-rich fluid entering it each day from the proximal intestine. This allows us to form solid stools and permit less frequent bowel movements (or defecation).


The large intestine is the same thing as the large bowel. The main components of the large intestine include the following:

  • cecum - The cecum marks the beginning of the large intestine and is basically a big pouch that receives waste material from the small intestine.
  • appendix -The appendix is a narrow, dead-end tube about three-to-four inches long that hangs off of the cecum. Although it's commonly referred to as the "appendix," the real name for it is "vermiform appendix."
  • colon - The colon is about six feet long and is the part of the body's digestive system that moves waste material from the small intestine to the rectum. The small intestine sucks the nutrients out of what you eat and then pours the leftover sludge into the cecum. This sludgy waste then moves from the cecum to the colon for further processing.
  • rectum - The rectum is about eight inches long and serves, basically, as a warehouse for poop. It hooks up with the sigmoid colon to the north and with the anal canal to the south.
  • anal canal - The anal canal is the last stop for poop before it sees the light of day. It's situated between the rectum and anus.
  • anus - The anus is the end of the line for the alimentary canal. The anal canal lies to the north of the anus and the light of day is to the south. During defecation, waste passes from the rectum, through the anal canal, and ultimately out through the anus.