View random article

What Is an Omentum?

The omentum is the fat depository of the body. The greater omentum is found in front of the stomach and the lesser omentum around the liver. Both easily become repositories for fat storage. The greater omentum is the easiest to understand in terms of the abdomen appearing stiff and distended in a beer belly.

The omentum is the most accessible place for fat within the body. During weight loss, the omentum shrinks, reducing health risks. A very fatty omentum can become inflamed and creates conditions for illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure and hardening arteries. A big omentum usually indicates higher risk towards a variety of difficult to deal with illnesses. Cancerous tissue in ovarian, intestinal and endometrial cancers can spread to the omentum. An omentectomy is the surgical procedure carried out to remove the omentum in such cases.

Besides fat, the omentum also stores hormones such as cortisol, the stress hormone. The omentum’s growth can be stimulated by high stress. Thus dieting or exercise may not be enough to reduce the omentum’s size, but stress therapy, relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes may be required. You can determine the health of your omentum by simple measurement. Measure round your body across your belly button. Women should not exceed 32 inches and men must be less than 35 inches.

The omentum also has collections of milky spots for immune system contribution. During infection or trauma in the abdomen, the omentum can also physically move to cover the wound and limit infection. Surgeons have reported omentum following their hands during an abdominal procedure.

Featured in Health