Rectum – The distal portion of the large intestine, beginning anterior to the third sacral vertebra as a continuation of the sigmoid and ending at the anal canal. The feces, the solid waste products of digestion, are formed in the large intestine and are gradually pushed down into the rectum by the muscular action of the intestine. Distention of the rectum by the accumulating feces sets up nerve impulses that indicate to the brain the need to empty the bowels. The rectum is 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inches) long, with the anal canal making up the last segment.


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