What is the function of the appendix?

Expert Answers
besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The function of the appendix is not exactly known. It is a tube of tissue about 3 1/2 inches long and extends from the large intestine. What is known about the appendix is that when it is removed from the body there are no apparent consequences.

Sometimes the appendix becomes infected. This is called appendicitis. When this happens, a pus filled abscess forms on the side of the appendix. There is a lot of pain associated with this condition and it is very important that it is surgically removed. If it is not removed promptly, it may burst, spilling infectious materials into the abdominal cavity.

It is estimated that in the United States, approximately one out of every fifteen people will have appendicitis. It is most common in people between the ages of 10 and 30.

dano7744 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The vermiform(worm like) appendix is a hollow tubular structure in the right lower quadrant of the abdominal cavity. It's function has been debated for years. Currently, most experts agree that it serves no digestive function but because it contains lymphatic tissue it may play a minor role in the immunologic defense mechanisms of the body. The immunologic system helps to fight off infections by antigen-antibody responses. 

Appendicitis is a very common condition of the appendix in which the lining becomes inflammed usually from bacterial infection. This inflammation causes pain and tenderness. Treatment is removal of the appendix, called appendectomy, with concurrent antibiotic therapy.

giorgiana1976 | Student

Humble appendix, long regarded as a useless evolutionary artifact, has regained the respect, about 3 years ago, when researchers at the University Duck suggested that it fulfills a critical function.

They say that appendix is a haven for good bacteria, where they can shelter until they are needed to repopulate the intestine after a severe case of diarrhea, for example.

Using a modern approach of biological evolution, which uses genetic information in combination with other information to assess the biological connections that emerged over the years, Parker and his colleagues discovered that the appendix has been modified at least twice, once in Australian marsupials and the second time in rats and other rodents, primates and humans.

Darwin theorized that the appendix in humans and other primates is an evolutionary remnant of a larger structure called the caecum, which was part of the digestive system of the ancestors. The latest study shows two major mistakes in this theory. First, some living species, including some lemurs, rodents and a kind of flying squirrel, still have an appendix attached to a larger caecum which is used in digestion. Second, Parker says that currently there are very many species in nature that have appendix.

Darwin also was not aware that appendicitis, or inflammation of the appendix, is not caused by a defective appendix, but rather is caused by cultural changes associated with an industrialized society and improving of sanitation.

unique254 | Student

The function of the appendix is storing and protection of the good bacteria that aids in the digestion of food.