Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Medical discovery by Leonardo confirmed

One of the basic tenets of this blog is that the artist is a pattern detector that can engage in basic discovery that can enhance science. Here's an example of a missed opportunity...

Leonardo da Vinci was the first to notice and characterise the human mesentery--an odd section of colon--in a drawing from about 1508. One of the first anatomical textbooks to include the mesentery was by the anatomist Henry Gray, in the first edition of the well-known medical textbook Gray's Anatomy. In this text, the mesentery was presented as a fragmented structure until 2016.

That change is because a 2012 paper on mesentery anatomy analyzed over 100 bowel sections, discovering that this part of the colon actually has a continuous spiral structure, rather than being a disconnected series of functionless bowel folds, as previously thought. Paradoxically, the sharp focus of surgeons prevented the big picture from emerging until now:
Even when performing open surgery on the intestines, the structure was hard for surgeons to spot. "When you operate on the right hand side, you don't really tend to see the left hand side and vice versa, if you operate on the left you just don't see the right."
This discovery opens up a new field of medical research to understand the function of this "new" organ.

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