What's the difference between an appendix and a cecum, and what are their functions?


2 Answers 2


In herbivores the Cecum is an area that stores plant matter and helps digest it via symbiotic bacteria. Carnivores have smaller Cecums because meat is easier to digest than plant matter. In humans the Cecum is also an anatomical landmark that delineates the change from small intestine (a digesting organ) to the large intestine (mostly a capacity/storage organ).

The Appendix is a small, previously thought "superfluous" fleshy worm-shaped organ at the junction between the small and large intestines. Recent research posits that the appendix is sort of a harbor for a person's gut flora that can re-populate the intestines should the existing bacteria die or get removed (diarrhea being the most common cause). It can also become infected, inflamed, and require surgery to remove (Appendicitis).

Anatomic chart

  • $\begingroup$ But, how do people survive then if their appendix is removed, if it has such a crucial function? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ Its function (which is still being debated) isn't that crucial. Rarely ever is all of your gut flora wiped out, and there are other ways to repopulate. Because of its seemingly benign, if not particularly useful, existence it is only removed if it becomes a problem. However, if it is removed, practically everybody recovers fully and there are practically no side-effects. $\endgroup$
    – MCM
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ Also see: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/1502/… $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 20:27

Appendix and cecum both are parts of the large intestine.

Appendix is the inferior extension of the cecum of the large intestine. It is a blind pouch-like structure that resembles a worm, hence the name ‘vermiform’.


Cecum is a small intraperitoneal pouch-like structure located on the right side of the lower abdomen.

Source - Knowyourbody.net

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    $\begingroup$ Multiple answers are usually appreciated because they can address different aspects of a question. However, simply repeating the point already stated by an existing answer is not really appreciated. $\endgroup$
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 8:43
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Welcome to BIO.SE. Thanks for adding an answer. However, in addition to WYSIWYG's comment, we also discourage simply quoting large chunks of text. Instead, try to synthesize info from one or many reputable sources into your own words and formatted for this site. Thanks. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 21, 2018 at 13:22

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