Viscera

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 11 Nov 2021

The viscera (singular: viscus) refers to all the internal organs within the major cavities of the thorax, abdomen and pelvis. Therefore it does not include organs of the CNS, head and neck or musculoskeletal compartments nor does it encompass non-internal organs (e.g. the skin) 1.

Splanchnology (TA: systemata visceralia) 5 is the study of all the internal organs of the chest, abdominal and pelvic cavities. However the adjectival form splanchnic is usually restricted to the internal organs of the abdominal cavity only, hence derived terms such as the splanchnic vessels (see below).

The splanchnic vasculature refers to the vessels providing arterial supply and venous drainage for those internal organs of the celiac, superior mesenteric and inferior mesenteric artery territories, namely stomach, small bowel, large bowelliver, pancreas and spleen only 1,4,6

The abdominal viscera are themselves commonly subdivided into solid and hollow viscera.

History and etymology

The word 'viscera' is the Latin term for 'internal organs' 1,3.

The term 'splanchnic' is derived from the Greek word σπλαγχνον (splanchnon) meaning 'the innards' 1,2.

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