Researchers at Duke University Medical Center say that the function of the frequently discarded appendix is to produce and protects good germs for your gut.
This theory is explained in an online edition of the Journal of Theoretical Biology. According to the study, there are massive amounts of bacteria in the human digestive system. Most of it is good and helps digest food. But sometimes this bacterium dies off or is purged from the intestines.
When the diseases such as cholera or dysentery cause bacterial purging, the bacteria in the appendix are safely harbored. According to the researchers, the appendix’s job is to “reboot” the digestive system when that happens.
It’s a common notion that vermiform appendix is a vestigial organ and many doctors believed it had no function. It is a blind ended tube connected to the cecum, from which it develops embryologically.
The term “vermiform” comes from Latin and means “wormlike in appearance”. The cecum is a pouch-like structure of the colon. The appendix is near the junction of the small intestine and the large intestine.
Medical literature shows that the appendix is not generally credited with significant function. The appendix is rich in infection-fighting lymphoid cells, suggesting that it might play a role in the immune system.
The most common diseases of the appendix (in humans) are appendicitis and carcinoid tumors. Appendix cancer accounts for about 1 in 200 of all gastrointestinal malignancies.
Appendicitis (or epityphlitis) is a condition characterized by inflammation of the appendix. Virtually all cases of Appendicitis require removal of the inflamed appendix, either by laparotomy or laparoscopy. Untreated, the appendix will rupture, leading to peritonitis, then shock, and, if continued untreated, death.
Whether or not the appendix has a function, it is routinely removed without any notable ill effects or side effects. Hyperallergenic responses to the appendix’s contents may be a common cause of appendicitis in developed countries.
But the scientists also stress that even though the appendix seems to have a function, people should still have them removed when they are inflamed because since leaving it untreated could be fatal.