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Anatomy and Physiology

The mouth is the beginning of the digestive tract; and, in fact,

starts here when taking the first bite of food. Chewing breaks
the food into pieces that are more easily digested,
while saliva mixes with food to begin the process of
breaking it down into a form your body can absorb

and use.

The esophagus is a muscular tube connecting
(pharynx) with the stomach. The esophagus is

the throat
about 8 inches

long, and is lined by moist pink tissue called


The esophagus runs behind the windpipe (trachea) and


and in front of the spine. Just before entering the stomach,


esophagus passes through the

diaphragm.The esophagus seems to have

only one

important function in the body - to carry

food, liquids, and saliva from the mouth to the stomach.



stomach is a muscular organ located on the left


of the upper abdomen. The stomach

receives food from the esophagus. As
food reaches the end of the
esophagus, it enters the stomach through
a muscular valve called the lower esophageal
sphincter.The stomach secretes acid and enzymes

that digest food. Ridges of muscle tissue called rugae line the stomach. The stomach
muscles contract periodically, churning food to enhance digestion. The pyloric sphincter
is a muscular valve that opens to allow food to pass from the stomach to the small

Small intestine
In the small intestine food that has already been broken down by chewing and
stomach enzymes is further degraded by additional
enzymes. Some of these chemicals are secreted in the
lumen (the hollow area in the middle of the intestine), but
others are transported to the intestine
from other organs such as the pancreas
and liver. Where absorption takes place depends on the
type of nutrient or vitamin being absorbed. Once fully
reduced to a chemical level the molecules that are going to


absorbed pass through the walls of the intestine into the bloodstream.
Peristalsis, contraction of the muscle walls, is the force that propels matter through the
small intestine. It is a slow process, allowing the food matter to mix with the digestive

The first section of the small intestine in
most higher vertebrates,
including mammals, reptiles, and birds.
In fish, the divisions of the small intestine
are not as clear, and the terms anterior
intestine or proximal intestine may be used
instead of duodenum.[2] In mammals the
duodenum may be the principal site for iron absorption. [3]The duodenum precedes
the jejunum and ileum and is the shortest part of the small intestine, where most
chemical digestion takes place. In humans, the duodenum is a hollow jointed tube about
2538 cm (1015 inches) long connecting the stomach to the jejunum. It begins with
the duodenal bulb and ends at the suspensory muscle of duodenum.[5]

The jejunum is the middle of the
three parts of the small intestine.
The transition from the
extraperitoneal ascending part of
the duodenum to the
intraperitoneal jejunum occurs at
the duodenojejunal flexure (at the
height of L2). The transition to
the ileum is not sharply marked and only visible microscopically.
The jejunum makes up about 2/5 of the total length of the small intestine (1.5 to 3.5
meters). Macroscopically noticeable are the many parallel running circular folds in the
mucosa (valves of Kerckring). Like all intraperitoneal organs both the jejunum and

ileum are attached to the posterior wall of the abdomen by the mesentery. By this
means the entire convolute of the small intestine lies quite flexibly in the abdominal
cavity however framed by the colon.

The ileum is the last of the three parts
of the small intestine. The transition from
the jejunum to the ileum is not sharply
marked. At the distal end the ileum opens
into the large intestine. At the junction
between the ileum and the caecum lies
the ileocecal valve (ileal ostium), a
functional sphincter formed by the circular
muscle layers of both the ileum and cecum. It prevents a reflux of the bacteria-rich
content from the large intestine into the small intestine. The ileum makes up about 3/5
of the total length of the small intestine (2.5 to 3.5 meters). Compared to the jejunum
the parallel running circular folds in the mucosa (valves of Kerckring) are less
prominent. In contrast it is rich in lymphoid follicles. Similar to the jejunum the ileum is
attached to the posterior wall of the abdomen by the mesentery and therefore lies
flexibly in the abdominal cavity.

Large intestine
The large intestine is the final
section of the gastrointestinal tract
that performs the vital task of
absorbing water and vitamins while
converting digested food into feces.
Although shorter than the small
intestine in length, the large intestine
is considerably thicker in diameter,
thus giving it its name. The large intestine is about 5 feet (1.5 m) in length and 2.5

inches (6-7 cm) in diameter in the living body, but becomes much larger postmortem as
the smooth muscle tissue of the intestinal wall relaxes.

Ascending colon
The ascending colon is one of
the four major regions of the
colon, which is itself one of the
parts of our large intestine. The
ascending colon carries feces
from the cecum superiorly along
the right side of our abdominal
cavity to the transverse colon. In
the ascending colon, bacteria
digest the transitory fecal matter
in order to release vitamins. The intestinal wall absorbs water, nutrients, and vitamins
from the feces and deposits these materials into our bloodstream. It is retained in
contact with the posterior wall of the abdomen by the peritoneum, which covers its
anterior surface and sides, its posterior surface being connected by loose areolar
tissue with the iliacus, quadratus lumborum, aponeurotic origin of transversus
abdominis, and with the front of the lower and lateral part of the right kidney.Sometimes
the peritoneum completely invests it, and forms a distinct but narrow mesocolon.It is in
relation, in front, with the convolutions of the ileum and the abdominal
walls.Parasympathetic innervation to the ascending colon is supplied by the vagus
nerve. Sympathetic innervation is supplied by the thoracic splanchnic nerves.

Transverse colon

The transverse colon is the longest

and most movable part of the colon.
It crosses the abdomen from
the ascending colon at the hepatic
or right colic flexure with a downward
convexity to the descending
colon where it curves sharply on itself
beneath the lower end of
the spleen forming the splenic or left
colic flexure. In its course, it
describes an arch, the concavity of which is directed backward and a little upward. Toward its
splenic end there is often an abrupt U-shaped curve which may descend lower than the main
curve.It is almost completely invested by peritoneum, and is connected to the inferior border of
the pancreas by a large and wide duplicature of that membrane

Descending colon
The descending colon is the part of
the colon from the splenic flexure to
the beginning of the sigmoid
colon and thereby part of the large
intestine. The function of the
descending colon in the digestive
system is to store the remains of digested food that will be emptied into the rectum.The colon is part

of the large intestine, the final part of the digestive system. Its function is to reabsorb fluids and
process waste products from the body and prepare for its elimination.

Sigmoid colon

sigmoid colon is a curved, S-shaped region of the

intestine and is the final segment of the colon. It
transports fecal matter from the descending colon

to the

rectum and anus. Feces are stored in the sigmoid


until they are ready to be eliminated from the body

through the anal

plays a small role

canal. The intestinal wall of the sigmoid colon also

in the absorption of water, nutrients and vitamins from

Cecum is an intraperitoneal pouch, that is
considered to be the beginning of the large
intestine. It receives chyme from the ileum,
and connects to the ascending colon of
thelarge intestine. It is separated from the
ileum by the ileocecal valve (ICV) or Bauhin's
valve. It is also separated from the colon by
the cecocolic junction. The appendix is
connected to the cecum. While the cecum is
usually intraperitoneal, the ascending colon isretroperitoneal.[1]

The appendix sits in the lower right
abdomen. The function of the appendix is
unknown. One theory is that the appendix
acts as a storehouse for good bacteria, rebooting the
digestive system after diarrheal illnesses.
Other experts believe the appendix is just
a useless remnant from our evolutionary

The rectum is the concluding part of the
large intestine that terminates in the
anus.The average length of the human
rectum may range between 10 and 15
cm. Its diameter can be compared to
that of the sigmoid colon (the part of the
large intestine nearest the rectum) at its
onset. However, it becomes larger near
the anus, where it forms the rectal ampulla.