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Definition of «Duodenum»

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Duodenum: The first part of the small intestine. The duodenum extends from the pylorus at the bottom of the stomach to the jejunum, the second part of the small intestine. The duodenum is a common site for the formation of peptic ulcers. We often live with words without thinking where they come from or what they originally meant. That is the case for me with the duodenum. For decades, this writer knew the duodenum as a short but troubled sector of the small intestine. Only today did I learn that the duodenum began as the dodeka-daktulon, twelve fingers to the Greeks, who astutely observed that the duodenum is about 12 finger-breadths long. In German, the popular term for duodenum is Zwolffingerdarm, the 12-finger intestine.

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