July 28, 2023
In pathology, the term distal is used to describe a part of an organ or tissue farther from the middle or center of the body than another part of the organ or tissue being examined. The opposite of distal is proximal.
For example, the colon is a long tube that starts at the end of the small bowel and ends at the anal canal. The colon is divided into six parts: cecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, and rectum. If the entire colon was being examined by a pathologist, the rectum would be described as the distal part of the organ because it is at the end of the colon and farther away from the center of the body.
The term distal can be used even when only a part of an organ is removed. For example, if the sigmoid colon and rectum are surgically removed, the sigmoid colon would be described as the proximal part of the specimen and the rectum would be described as the distal part of the specimen.