Taeniae coli

Last revised by Yoshi Yu on 5 Apr 2023

The taeniae coli are three longitudinal bands of smooth muscle on the outer colonic wall that extend from the cecum to the distal sigmoid colon.

Gross anatomy

The taeniae coli lie superficial to the inner circumferential layer of the colonic smooth muscle and result in the classic interrupted haustral markings appearance of the colon (unlike the continuous valvulae conniventes within the small bowel).

Proximally, the taeniae coli converge at the base of the appendix in the cecum where they form a complete longitudinal layer.

In the ascending and descending colon, the bands are located anteriorly (free taenia), posteromedially (mesocolic taenia), and posterolaterally (omental taenia). In the transverse colon, due to dependent rotation of the bowel, the positions of the taeniae coli shift to be respectively located inferiorly, posteriorly, and superiorly.

In the sigmoid colon, the taeniae coli gradually broaden to form anterior and posterior layers that fuse laterally to form a complete longitudinal muscle layer surrounding the rectum.

Clinical importance

In an appendectomy, if the appendix is not immediately obvious, the taeniae coli can be used as a guide to identify the appendix where they merge at its base.

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Cases and figures

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