Last month, I read an article announcing the discovery of a new organ, the Interstitium. I have to admit to only a passing curiosity and lots of bemused commentary about double-checking some medical research. Further review has led to more questions and as often happens more interest. Why? Because the Interstitium and the Lungs are bosom buddies and as we know, there is no sound without the breath. The Interstitium suddenly had my undivided attention. Here is what we know so far.
First, we have to define the interstitium: It is a network of widespread fluid-filled spaces within and between tissues all over your body.
Within the lungs, the Interstitium is a lace-like network of tissues that extends throughout both lungs. The Interstitium provides support to the lungs’ microscopic air sacs (alveoli). Tiny blood vessels travel through the Interstitium, allowing gas exchange between the blood and the air in the lungs.
Then to define what an organ is: Something having a unitary structure or that it is tissue with a unitary structure or tissue with a unitary function.
The Interstitium has both, with the structure and function being the same wherever you look at it. Also, since it occurs in over 20% of the body it might be a bigger organ that the skin which exists over 16% of the body. More research, including duplication of these findings, is necessary before the Interstitium gets the upgrade to an organ, however, it is exciting.
For one thing, the fluid in the Interstitium is pre-lymphatic and serves as a conduit of cellular signals and both benign and harmful molecules. Studying how it works as a complete system could provide valuable information about how cancer spreads and how inflammation can flare in the body with implications for both Cancer and Auto-immune conditions. There is also the possibility that it is working as a “shock-absorber” for other organs (such as the lungs) as the organs swell and compress.
What we already know is that disorders of the Interstitial tissue in and near the lungs can cause some pretty debilitating health conditions. If it turns out that the Interstitium is, in fact, an organ working in concert with the lungs as they expand and contract then understanding them will be a crucial component in understanding the vocal instrument. In addition, we are just beginning to understand the relationship of the fascia in the interconnectedness of the body as a whole, this discovery has the potential to further amplify our understanding of the human instrument. I, for one, will definitely be staying tuned.
The original study, Structure, and Distribution of an Unrecognized Interstitium in Human Tissues, can be found Here.
Gina Razón is the principal voice specialist at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service voice and speech studio in Boston’s Back Bay. She has over 16 years of experience both as a teacher of voice and speech, and a voraciously curious voice user. Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as professional public speaker. For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit www.growvoice.com.