Colic valve

Ileocecal valve
Interior of the cecum and lower end of ascending colon, showing colic valve. ("Colic valve" is an older term for the ileocecal valve.)
Endoscopic image of cecum with arrow pointing to ileocecal valve in foreground.
Latin valva ileocaecalis
Gray's subject #249 1179
Artery ileocolic artery
Vein ileocolic vein
MeSH Ileocecal+valve

The ileocecal valve, or ileocaecal valve, is a papillose structure with physiological sphincter muscle situated at the junction of the small intestine (ileum) and the large intestine, with recent evidence indicating an anatomical sphincter may also be present in humans.[1] Its critical function is to limit the reflux of colonic contents into the ileum.[2]

'The ileocecal valve is distinctive because it is the only site in the GI tract which is used for Vitamin B12 and bile acid absorption.[3] [4] [5]

Functionally, roughly two litres of fluid enters the colon daily through the ileocecal valve.


The histology of the ileocecal valve shows an abrupt change from a villous mucosa pattern of the ileum to a more colonic mucosa. A thickening of the muscularis mucosa, which is the smooth muscle tissue found beneath the mucosal layer of the digestive tract. A thickening of the muscularis externa is also noted.[1]

There is also a variable amount of lymphatic tissue found at the valve.[6]

Clinical significance

During colonoscopy, the ileocecal valve is used, along with the appendiceal orifice, in the identification of the cecum. This is important, as it indicates that a complete colonoscopy has been performed. The ileocecal valve is typically located on the last fold before entry into the cecum, and can be located from the direction of curvature of the appendiceal orifice, in what is known as the bow and arrow sign.[7]

Intubation of the ileocecal valve is typically performed in colonoscopy to evaluate the distal, or lowest part of the ileum. Small bowel endoscopy can also be performed by double-balloon enteroscopy through intubation of the ileocecal valve.[8]


Tumors of the ileocecal valve are rare, but have been reported in the literature.[9][10]


It was described by the Dutch physician Nicolaes Tulp (1593–1674), and thus it is sometimes known as Tulp's valve.

Additional images


External links

  • Diagram at
  • cecuminside)
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