Witness Post: Intestine and Vessel
One of the questions that comes up from time to time among curious 50+ year olds, is how long are our intestines. As I am about to enter the clinic for my periodic colonoscopy, this is not just an academic question. The answer is surprising.
According to Wikipedia: “Your intestines are about 8.5 meters long. A human’s small intestine is 7 meters long, or about 20 feet and the large intestine is 1.5 meters of about 5 feet long.” 
I wanted to know how far up inside of me that scope has to look and probe and perhaps snip small polyps, before the process is over and the device can come back out of me. Since the journey of the scope covers the large intestines or colon, it looked like the trip was about 10 feet long (five feet up and five feet back down). The questionnaire that the medical community hands out asks for history of colorectal cancer “in the family,” and they mean within one’s immediate family (parents and siblings). I have a first cousin who died of colon cancer, so I have been on the look-out for these matters for the past decade and a half.
The scope has a nifty light, probe and loop that it uses to view the inside of our colons, and it is bendable to maneuver the snake-like turns in the colon without perforating the side of the intestines. The procedure can last between 15 minutes and an hour and I was surprised, since this was my third colonoscopy, and it took an hour. The doctor attended to three small polyps. He snipped them and cauterizing the area.
For some reason, the same Wikipedia inquiry on intestine and colon length has information about your blood travel time in our bodies and the length of our blood vessels. I guess people want to stretch body parts from end to end and vicariously travel the world.
Here is what it says: “Your blood takes a very long trip through your body. If you could stretch out all of a human’s blood vessels, they would be about 60,000 miles long. That’s enough to go around the world twice.”
Twice around the world? Pack your bags!