The mesentery is the organ in which all abdominal digestive organs develop, and which maintains these in systemic continuity in adulthood. Interest in the mesentery was rekindled by advancements of Heald and Hohenberger in colorectal surgery. Conventional descriptions hold there are multiple mesenteries centrally connected to the posterior midline. Recent advances first demonstrated that, distal to the duodenojejunal flexure, the mesentery is a continuous collection of tissues. This observation explained how the small and large intestines are centrally connected, and the anatomy of the associated peritoneal landscape. In turn it prompted recategorisation of the mesentery as an organ. Subsequent work demonstrated the mesentery remains continuous throughout development, and that abdominal digestive organs (i.e. liver, spleen, intestine and pancreas) develop either on, or in it. This relationship is retained into adulthood when abdominal digestive organs are directly connected to the mesentery (i.e. they are ‘mesenteric' in embryological origin and anatomical position). Recognition of mesenteric continuity identified the mesenteric model of abdominal anatomy according to which all abdominal abdomino-pelvic organs are organised into either a mesenteric or a non-mesenteric domain. This model explains the positional anatomy of all abdominal digestive organs, and associated vasculature. Moreover, it explains the peritoneal landscape and enables differentiation of peritoneum from the mesentery. Increased scientific focus on the mesentery has identified multiple vital or specialised functions. These vary across time and in anatomical location. The following review demonstrates how recent advances related to the mesentery are re-orientating the study of human biology in general and, by extension, clinical practice.

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