The colon is part of the large intestine, the last part of the digestive system. Its function is to process waste in the body and prepare for its elimination. The colon consists of four parts: descending colon, ascending colon, transverse colon, and sigmoid colon. While the small intestine plays a major role in absorbing nutrients from food, the large intestine plays a much smaller role. It stores waste, reclaims water, maintains water balance, absorbs some vitamins, like vitamin K, and provides for flora-aided fermentation. The descending colon is located on the left side of the large intestine, extending from the bend below the spleen to the sigmoid colon. The ascending colon is the largest of the four parts and is located on the right of the large intestine. The transverse colon hangs off the stomach. The sigmoid colon is located between the descending colon and the rectum. The descending colon stores the food to be emptied into the rectum. It is more deeply placed in the colon than the ascending colon. It has a strong coverage of peritoneum, which supports the abdominal organs and serves as a conduit for blood, lymph vessels, and nerves.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: Descending colon