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A Concise Description of Its Wonderful Mechanism
In addition to much anatomical information this description of the abdomen includes instructive reference to the importance of developing the abdominal muscles and to the significance of abdominal pains. Further information is given under the headings of the various organs.
In that part of the human body termed the trunk three distinct regions may be recognized. The uppermost consists of the chest; the lowest, which has a skeleton of bone somewhat in the form of a basin, is styled the pelvis; and between these is the large space known as the abdomen, or more popularly the belly. This is shut off from the cavity of the chest by a dome-shaped structure, formed of muscle and membrane, which is called the midriff or diaphragm. There is no such partition however, between abdomen and the pelvis, the cavity of the one being continuous with that of the other. It must be understood that when one speaks of a cavity in connexion with these parts, it is not meant that there is any empty space. Each part is occupied completely by various organs.
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The attitude of the disk-thrower in Ancient Greek sculpture of the 5th Century BC, the discobolus which shows magnificent development of the abdominal muscles rendered possible by training.
In the abdomen the contents are mainly those belonging to the digestive system. Immediately below the diaphragm, mainly on the right side but extending across the middle line of the body, is the liver, which is the largest organ and the largest gland in the body. At the side the liver does not come below the level of the ribs, but it does so towards the middle line. The gall bladder lies under the lower margin of the liver, opposite the inner end of the 9th rib on the right side. The stomach lies about the middle of the body at that part which is commonly referred to as the pit of the stomach, or the epigastrium.
Smokh   LOCATING THE PARTS This external view of the trunk supplements the internal and partly dissected views given below and shows the relative positions of the important abdominal organs.

Below the stomach is a part of the large intestine (the colon), which stretches right across. The large intestine commences in the right lower part of the abdomen and runs up the right flank: it then crosses as above described, and runs down the left flank, forms a horseshoe loop, known as the sigmoid flexure, in the left lower part of the abdomen, finally passing down the pelvis as the rectum.
Smokh   ABDOMEN: THE NERVE CENTER The main activities of the abdominal organs are controlled by the solar or coeliac plexus. Unaware of its existence when all is well, we feel in other parts of the body pains referred from it in diseased conditions, and to it is due the sinking feeling or butterflies experienced on occasion of shock or dread.
The space around the navel and within the loop of the large intestine is filled with the loops of the small intestine. This tube, which has an average length of about 22-1/2 feet, begins at the right or lower opening of the stomach, just below the margin of the ribs on the right side, and opens into the large intestine just above the commencement of the latter. Running across the abdomen from about this point, and behind the stomach, is a long, narrow gland, of great importance in digestion and otherwise, called the pancreas. Deeply placed beneath the ribs on the left side is the spleen, which is the importance in connexion with the manufacture of blood.
The Kidneys are placed more deeply still, on either side, and at a short distance from the middle line of the back. The kidney lies beneath the last two ribs, the lower half extending below the level.
Pain in the back is often ascribed to the kidneys, but in most cases it has nothing to do with these organs; the popular idea of the situation of the kidneys places them lower than they really are.
From the kidneys tubes pass down to the urinary bladder, which lies at the front of the pelvis and belongs to this part of the body, though when the bladder is full it rises up into the abdomen. On the top of each kidney there is a small body, known as the supra-renal gland, which produces an important internal secretion for the maintenance of blood pressure and for other purposes.
Behind the stomach there is a mass of nervous tissues, known as the solar plexus which supplies nerves to various abdominal viscera. It is necessary to say something about the nerves supply of the abdomen, because not infrequently mistakes are made in diagnosing disease through wrong interpretation of pain felt in this part.
The nerves which run forward between the ribs pass to the middle line of the body in front, and this means that the lower six pass forward on to the abdominal wall. It thus happens, for instance, that the nerves which, on the back and side of the chest, lies between the 10th and 11th ribs ends actually about the navel. Now if the intercostal nerves, that is to say, the nerves in the chestwall, are irritated, for example, by pleurisy, the pain may not be felt in the chest wall at all, but somewhere down on the belly. This explains way a case supposed to be appendicitis sometimes turns out to be pneumonia or pleurisy.
Again, the abdominal organs are insensitive to the touch. When the walls of the hollow abdominal organs are unduly stretched by gas or fluid within them pain is felt. The irritation thus set up may affect the nerves running from them towards the spinal cord and pain is reflected along these. The appendix, for example, is situated in the right and lower part of the abdomen. At the beginning of appendicitis the pain is not felt here, however, but is felt round the navel.
The inner lining of the abdomen is a strong, smooth membrane, known as the peritoneum (q.v). In wounds and diseases of the abdomen the chief risk is that of a general inflammation of this membrane, that is to say, general peritonitis, an extremely dangerous malady; at the same time the peritoneum also manifests strong protective activities.
The front wall of the belly is formed of flat layers of strong muscles. When these are well developed, as in the athlete, their powers of protection are strongly exemplified.
The oesophagus or gullet pierces the diaphragm in making its way out of the chest to join the stomach. Amongst other structures which also pass through the diaphragm is the abdominal aorta, the large artery which supplies the lower part of the trunk and the lower limbs. In certain nervous states the throbbing of this artery in the epigastrium may be not only obtrusively visible, but it may cause uneasy sensations.
Breathing and the Abdomen: Air is drawn into the chest by the enlargement of its capacity. This is brought about in two ways. The first is by the descent of the diaphragm, which presses down on the abdominal contents and thereby throws forward the abdominal wall. This is very elastic and recoils at the end of the forward movement.
The second way is by the raising of the ribs. Thus, in breathing, the bosom may heave, or the abdomen, or both to some extent.
The encouragement of abdominal breathing is based not only on its contribution to a more through ventilation of the lungs but on the fact that a full rhythmic descent of the midriff has a stimulating effect on the abdominal organs, thereby furthering all their activities.
Walls of the Abdomen ñ Certain parts of the abdominal walls are weaker than the rest, and through these a loop of small bowel may protrude, giving rise to rupture or hernia (q.v.). Common sites for rupture are the navel, scars resulting from operations for appendicitis or some other abdominal affection, and the inguinal and femoral canals in the groin. The occurrence of such ruptures is favoured by strain, especially when this is sudden; it is also favoured by weakness of the abdominal muscles.
All these facts supply good reasons for endeavouring to maintain a good tone in the muscles of the abdominal wall.
Much can be done to improve the tone of these muscles by abdominal exercises, by massage, and by electrical methods. The accumulation of fat under the skin in this region constitutes another menace to shapeliness. Abdominal exercises, and the other measures above-mentioned, will be of some use here also; but it is necessary to remember that a tendency to obesity anywhere must be countered by vigous general exercise in the open air, by diet, and by deep breathing which helps to burn up superfluous fat.

A superficial dissection shows that flat musculature, which when kept in proper condition, sustains the internal organs naturally, fostering good digestion and elimination.