Have you heard about interstitium, the new organ? My fellow anatomy and movement geeks have all been discussing what this means for us. We've been taking about fascia for a long time, especially with the therapy ball use to keep the fascial layers fluid. As the news has been a bit sensationalized, I thought I’d share more. But, first...
Interstitium is not New
Kathy Dooley, a chiropractor, anatomy professor, and so much more, said it best.
Interstitium has always existed. Like the casing of a sausage, it has always been there and just been overlooked as a significant structure. In fact, it has been closely studied by a number of experts, which you would never know by looking at the references. Conveniently forgotten are the many studies by the fascial experts who have published over the years.
Something that Dr. Jean-Claude Guimberteau, a hand surgeon, called out in his response: "Writing that it is "unrecognized" can actually make me smile and it will quickly be demonstrated by dozens of articles written in French and English, by 7 produced films as well as books which have already highlighted this multifibrillar interior architecture in a very clear way thanks to microendoscopy in living human patients."
Dr. Guimberteau began to pay attention to the vascularization of the hand tendons in his surgeries to improve his technique and the success of his surgeries. It was then that he used high magnified microendoscopy to document the movement and potential shock absorbing qualities of the interstitium, which he called Multimicrovacuolar Collagen Dynamic Absorption System (MCDAS).
You can watch his video below to see this in action. (Note, that I skipped part of the lecture and that it may not be for the faint of heart.)
A number of experts have coined different names for the interstitial. Gil Hedley, PhD and anatomy expert who specialized in cadaver dissection, has called it the fuzz and peri-fascia. Jill Miller, of Yoga Tune Up® used the term loose fascia in her book The Roll Model to describe the transition area between the superficial and deep fascial layers that are important for the "slide & glide all over your body."
What is Interstitium?
Interstitium is a connective tissue that is found throughout the entire body from under our skin, within our visceral organs, and around every muscle, vein, and artery. It's probably easier to name body parts that don't have fascia and interstitium than don't, which is why it's being called the largest organ. The way the interstitium weaves through the body connecting everything, has been suggested as why acupuncture works and cancer may spread. What we do know right now, is that the interstitium allows movement from one organ to not affect an other dramatically. If we shake a Magic 8 ball everything inside shuffles around, but the interstitium helps to hold us together. (Proving that hysteria, never could happen.)
Newer technology has allowed us to look at the interstitium in a different way making it's unique structure very clear. The fact that the fibers hold fluid was a significant part of the scientists suggestion to reclassify the tissue as it's own organ.
The Future of Interstitium
Now that interstitium has been proposed as a new organ, there will be a lot more research into this tissue that will hopefully give us a much broader idea of how it functions beyond what we currently know. While the presenters and topics have been set for this year's The International Fascia Research Congress in Berlin, the topic of interstitium as an organ will certainly be a massive conversation and debate. It may also bring more scientists to attend the Congress, which began in 2009 as a way for researchers and health care professionals to come together to discuss the matrix of the soft connective tissue.
Whether interstitium officially becomes an organ or not, will be seen, but the research will certainly change anatomy books.
Kate Hamm combines her 15+ years of experience in the fitness industry and high-end resort program development into sought after wellness adventures at AnamBliss. She is a licensed Yoga Tune Up® instructor and a Roll Model® Method Practitioner. Visit www.anambliss.com for future retreat dates and locations.
A Bonus Video by Gil Hedley. Again, this may not be for those who are uncomfortable in looking at the dissected human form.