Digestive System

Lower Gastrointestinal Tract

What is the purpose of villi?

The mucosa layer of the small intestine has many fingerlike projections called villi. Villi (from the Latin, meaning “shaggy hairs”), and the smaller microvilli increase the surface area of the small intestine dramatically, allowing for greater absorption of nutrients. If the small intestine were a smooth tube without villi, it would have a total absorptive area of 3.6 square feet (3,344 square centimeters). The existence of villi effectively increases the absorptive area of the small intestine by a factor of nearly 600 to more than 2,200 square feet (2,043,800 square centimeters).


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Anatomy Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App