Muscular tube that conveys food by peristalsis from the pharynx to the stomach. Both ends are closed off by sphincters (muscular constrictions), which relax to let food through and close to keep it from backing up. Disorders include ulceration and bleeding, heartburn from stomach acid, achalasia (failure of one or both sphincters to open), and muscle spasms. Scleroderma may involve the esophagus.
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The esophagus or oesophagus (see American and British English spelling differences), sometimes known as the gullet, is an organ in vertebrates which consists of a muscular tube through which food passes from the pharynx to the stomach. The word esophagus is derived from the Latin oesophagus, which derives from the Greek word oisophagos (οισοφάγος). In humans the esophagus is continuous with the laryngeal part of the pharynx at the level of the C6 vertebra. The esophagus passes through a hole in the thoracic diaphragm called the esophageal hiatus. It is usually 25-30 cm long which connects the mouth to the stomach. It is divided into cervical, thoracic, and abdominal parts.