Transverse colon

The transverse colon is the lengthy, upper part of the large intestine.

Ingested food exits the small intestine and enters the cecum. As digestion continues, the ingested matter moves up the ascending colon and into the transverse colon. During this phase, bacteria further breaks down the food matter in a process called fermentation, water and nutrients are removed, and feces form. From there, feces moves through the descending colon and into the rectum, ultimately exiting the body through the anus as stool.

Because of its importance, the transverse colon requires a constant supply of oxygenated blood. This comes by way of two arteries. The medial colic artery branches off the superior mesenteric artery, and it serves most of this part of the large intestine. One third also receives oxygenated blood from the inferior mesenteric artery.

Like other parts of the large intestine, the transverse colon is susceptible to tumors and the onset of colon cancer. These cancers may also be preceded by polyps or other growths, which should be surgically removed when detected.

Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
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In Depth: Transverse colon

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