The rectum is the final straight portion of the large intestine in humans and some other mammals, and the gut in others. The adult human rectum is about 12 centimetres (4.7 in) long, and begins at the rectosigmoid junction, the end of the sigmoid colon, at the level of the third sacral vertebra or the sacral promontory depending upon what definition is used. Its caliber is similar to that of the sigmoid colon at its commencement, but it is dilated near its termination, forming the rectal ampulla. It terminates at the level of the anorectal ring (the level of the puborectalis sling) or the dentate line, again depending upon which definition is used. In humans, the rectum is followed by the anal canal which is about 4 centimetres (1.6 in) long, before the gastrointestinal tract terminates at the anal verge. The word rectum comes from the Latinrectumintestinum, meaning straight intestine.
The rectum is a part of the lower gastrointestinal tract. The rectum is a continuation of the sigmoid colon, and connects to the anus. The rectum follows the shape of the sacrum and ends in an expanded section called an ampulla where feces is stored before its release via the anal canal. An ampulla (from Latin bottle) is a cavity, or the dilated end of a duct, shaped like a Roman ampulla. The rectum joins with the sigmoid colon at the level of S3, and joins with the anal canal as it passes through the pelvic floor muscles.
Unlike other portions of the colon, the rectum does not have distinct taeniae coli. The taeniae blend with one another in the sigmoid colon five centimeters above the rectum, becoming a singular longitudinal muscle that surrounds the rectum on all sides for its entire length.