The peritoneum is the largest serous membrane in the body, and consists, in the male, of a closed sac, a part of which is applied against the abdominal parietes, while the remainder is reflected over the contained viscera. In the female the peritoneum is not a closed sac, since the free ends of the uterine tubes open directly into the peritoneal cavity. The part which lines the parietes is named the parietal portion of the peritoneum; that which is reflected over the contained viscera constitutes thevisceral portion of the peritoneum. The free surface of the membrane is smooth, covered by a layer of flattened mesothelium, and lubricated by a small quantity of serous fluid. Hence the viscera can glide freely against the wall of the cavity or upon one another with the least possible amount of friction. The attached surface is rough, being connected to the viscera and inner surface of the parietes by means of areolar tissue, termed the subserous areolar tissue. The parietal portion is loosely connected with the fascial lining of the abdomen and pelvis, but is more closely adherent to the under surface of the diaphragm, and also in the middle line of the abdomen. The peritoneum is the serous membrane that forms the lining of the abdominal cavity or the coelom—it covers most of the intra-abdominal (or coelomic) organs—in amniotes and some invertebrates (annelids, for instance). It is composed of a layer of mesothelium supported by a thin layer ofconnective tissue. The peritoneum both supports the abdominal organs and serves as a conduit for their blood and lymph vessels and nerves.


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