Mesothelium (definition of)
Also known as the viscera, the mesothelium is a membrane covering most of the body's internal organs. It is made up of a double layer of cells. The inner layer surrounds the organs themselves, while the surrounds it. The mesothelium produces a lubricative fluid between the layers that allow for the free movement of the internal organs and preventing irritation due to friction against other organs and the inner surfaces of the torso as they carry out their normal functions.
The mesothelium has several different appellations depending upon its location. These are the:
- pleura (chest and lungs)
- peritoneum (abdomen)
- pericardium (heart)
- tunica vaginalis testis (male reproductive organs)
- tunica serosa uteri (female reproductive organs)
Cancer that attacks these layers is known as mesothelioma. One of the first symptoms common to all forms of this disease is an accumulation of the fluid between the layers of the mesothelium. Ultimately, pressure from this fluid buildup constricts the organs and inhibiting their function; in addition, the cancer often metastasizes, spreading to nearby tissues.