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What Is the Omental Bursa?

By Andy Josiah
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The omental bursa is a pouch found in the abdomen of mammals, including humans, that is formed by the greater and lesser omentum. The term "omental" stands for its manner of formation, while "bursa" denotes its classification as a sac-like cavity. It is also known as the lesser sac or bursa omentalis minor. In some mammals, this feature might house some significant amounts of fat.

A thin layer of tissue that lines the walls of the abdominal cavity, the peritoneum is the location of the omental bursa. It is also the side of the greater and lesser omentum. Also known as the omentum majus, the greater omentum is the double layer of peritoneum, which is the biggest of its kind. It looks as if it is floating over the surface of the intestines as it hangs down from underneath the stomach, thus the alternate term "epiloon." The lesser omentum, also referred to as the omentum minus, is a double layer of peritoneum as well, but it extends from the lesser curvature of the stomach rather than from its greater curvature like the greater omentum.

The greater and the lesser omentum are two of the demarcation of the omental bursa. Anteriorly, or at the front, it is bordered by the greater omentum as well as the stomach and a well-defined section of the liver called a caudate lobe. Posteriorly, or from behind, the omental bursa is bordered, again, by the greater omentum via its posterior layers. Also demarcating the back of the lesser sac are a fold of peritoneum called transverse mesocolon and the transverse colon it connects to the stomach, the upper sections of the kidney and the pancreas, and the adrenal gland on the left side of the kidney. At the omental bursa's right are not only the lesser omentum, but the epiploic foramen as well.

Also known as the foramen of Winslow, the epiploic foramen is significant for being the opening that provides the communication link between the omental bursa — as the lesser sac — with the greater sac. This is the pouch in the abdomen that is outside of the lesser sac but inside the peritoneum. The epiploic foramen, also called the omental foramen, is formed by the greater omentum folding inwardly, which is a process that also contributes in the formation of the omental bursa itself. Notably, the foramen of Winslow and lesser omentum may leak into the omental bursa if they rupture.

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Discussion Comments
By anon247782 — On Feb 15, 2012

The omental bursa provides room for the stomach to move freely, and also gives it space to stretch and distend.

By burcinc — On Oct 25, 2011

@alisha, @ddljohn-- It does much more than that. Especially the greater omentum, which I consider to be the more important omentum, plays a huge factor in protecting and healing the surrounding organs in the abdomen. The greater omentum has the capability to locate inflammation in the abdominal organs. When it does find inflammation, it surrounds it to make sure it doesn't spread.

The omental bursa is also a barrier between the abdomen and other organs. Without the omental bursa, everything would stick together.

So you can sum it all up by saying that the omental bursa acts as a protective barrier and disease police in the abdomen.

By ddljohn — On Oct 25, 2011

@alisha-- As far as I know, those are the main functions.

It doesn't seem like the omental bursa does much, but I do know that the omental bursa and the foramen are very important when there is something wrong with the surrounding organs because it's a neighbor to so many.

So if there is a tumor in that area, if the appendix is infected or the stomach has an ulcer, the omental bursa communicates this information between the organs and tissues so that the body can take the proper action.

Also, if there is a tumor in the omental bursa, it's easy to remove it without causing any harm to the other organs. In fact, it can be a blessing because you can catch the tumor in the omental bursa before it spreads to the surrounding organs, which are more difficult to treat.

I think this is one of the most important functions of the omental bursa.

By discographer — On Oct 25, 2011

I'm studying for a test and I need to know what the function and purpose of the omental bursa is. I can't seem to find the answer anywhere. I know it connects the surrounding tissues and organs and helps communicate information. But is that the only role of omental bursa or are there others?

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