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What Is Hepatic Flexure?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Nestled near the liver, the hepatic flexure serves as a crucial junction in the digestive tract, marking the transition from the ascending to the transverse colon. According to Physiopedia, this anatomical bend is not just a passive curve but plays a role in the movement and processing of waste materials. The term 'hepatic' reflects its liver adjacency, derived from the Greek 'hēpar.' Understanding what hepatic flexure is is essential, as issues in this area, such as flexure syndrome, can impact approximately 10-15% of the population, as noted by the National Institutes of Health. This introduction aims to provide a clear, concise insight into the significance of the hepatic flexure within our digestive system.

The ascending colon lies on one side of the hepatic flexure, near the right portion of the liver and the gallbladder. The ascending colon begins at the cecum, a pouch found on the colon, also known as the large intestine. From the cecum, it travels throughout the right side of the abdomen, eventually connecting to the part of the large intestine known as the transverse colon.

The transverse portion of the colon is the longest section of the large intestine. This is also the colon segment that is capable of the most movement. It crosses the abdomen, traveling to the left side and ending near the spleen. The transverse colon also attaches to the border of the pancreas.

Hepatic flexure syndrome is a relatively common medical issue and can cause gas pains and abdominal discomfort. This pain is typically felt in the upper right portion of the abdomen and is thought to be caused by an abnormal accumulation of gas in the area. This syndrome is fairly easy to confuse with other abdominal disorders, so proper testing and medical intervention is important.

Liver function tests are among the medical testing generally ordered when this condition is suspected. If the results are normal, yet the painful episodes are persistent, this syndrome is the most common culprit. There have been instances in which the gallbladder has been removed in the hopes of obtaining pain relief for the patient, but if the problem is due to this particular issue, the surgery will not relieve the pain and discomfort.

Dietary changes are often enough to reduce the painful symptoms of hepatic flexure syndrome. Patient are often told to avoid foods such as beans, milk, and carbonated beverages. In extreme cases, surgical intervention may be required.

What Is Malignant Neoplasm of Hepatic Flexure?

The colon is made up of multiple parts. One of the parts is the hepatic flexure, which is also called the right colic flexure. There are a number of conditions you could develop in this area, and one potentially serious concern is a malignant neoplasm. This is a specific type of cancer, and it could develop as people get older. The longer you live, the greater your chances of developing a malignant neoplasm of this part of the body.

What Are the Symptoms of a Malignant Neoplasm in the Hepatic Flexure?

If you want to maximize your prognosis, it is important to detect this condition as quickly as possible. There are a few symptoms you may notice if you have cancer in this part of the body. For example, you might notice blood in the stools, which can take place as the neoplasm continues to grow and eats into a few of the blood vessels in this location. You may also feel like you aren't emptying your bowels completely. This could take place if the malignant neoplasm begins to press on certain parts of the colon.

You may also notice weight loss. If you develop diarrhea with this condition, you might lose a few pounds unintentionally. This is a sign that you need to see a doctor to conduct a complete investigation.

Can You Catch a Malignant Neoplasm on a Colonoscopy?

It is important for you to get a colonoscopy regularly, with most people getting this procedure for the first time at the age of 50. Then, you should get this procedure every ten years, or as directed by your doctor. It is possible that a malignant neoplasm of the hepatic flexure could be detected on a colonoscopy. If there is something unusual, the doctor will grab a biopsy sample from that specific part of your colon. Then, a pathologist will look at it underneath the microscope to see if there are any signs of cancer.

What Is Hepatic Flexure of the Colon?

The hepatic flexure of the colon is a specific part of your digestive tract. There are multiple flexures in your digestive tract as your intestines go from side to side across the abdomen. Specifically, the hepatic flexure of the colon is right next to the liver. That is why it is called the hepatic flexure. There is a sharp bend that takes place between the transverse colon and the ascending colon. As your bowels go from the ascending colon to the transverse colon, there is a sharp bend. It is located in the right upper quadrant of your abdomen.

This is an important part of your GI tract because there is a lot of digestion taking place in this part of your colon. It is important to extract as many nutrients as possible from your food, and that is exactly what happens at this location in your abdomen.

How To Treat Hepatic Flexure Syndrome

There are a number of abdominal issues that you could notice in this part of the body, and one potential problem is called hepatic flexure syndrome. This is a condition that takes place if you experience abdominal pain due to gas in this area of your GI tract. This condition is not considered to be life-threatening; however, it can be incredibly uncomfortable. As a result, you may experience significant quality-of-life issues.

If you have been diagnosed with this specific condition, the first step is to try to take steps to reduce the amount of gas building up in your digestive tract. For example, your doctor may recommend prescription medications that can help you reduce the amount of gas you produce. Or, your doctor may also work with you to make changes to your diet that can reduce gas production. It is important to develop a comprehensive approach to address this condition. That way, you can keep your abdominal pain under control.

If prescription medications and dietary changes are not enough to treat this syndrome, then your doctor may recommend surgery. You will need to talk to an abdominal surgeon about surgical options. In some cases, the surgeon may decide to remove this portion of your colon and put the rest of your large and small intestines back together. It is possible that this might have an impact on your body's ability to digest your food, which is why it is important to treat this on a case-by-case basis, deciding what is best for your medical needs.

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