Q:

What does the esophagus do in the digestive system?

A:

Quick Answer

The esophagus is a long, muscular tube that connects an animal’s stomach to its mouth. Distinct from the windpipe, which transports air into and out of the lungs, the esophagus usually carries food and water from the mouth to the stomach. However, during vomiting, the esophagus carries stomach acids and undigested food from the stomach back out through the mouth. The esophagus is about 1 inch in diameter, and approximately 10 to 14 inches in length.

Continue Reading
What does the esophagus do in the digestive system?
Credit: COM SALUD Agencia de comunicación CC-BY 2.0

Full Answer

The esophagus has two muscular control points, called sphincters. Similar to sphincters in other portions of the body, when the muscles in the sphincter contract, they prevent liquids from passing through. The esophagus features two sphincters, one at each end. The upper esophageal sphincter is involved in swallowing and breathing and is usually under an animal’s conscious control. By contrast, the lower esophageal sphincter, which prevents stomach acids or food from travelling back up the esophagus, is not usually under direct, voluntary control.

If the lower esophageal sphincter does not close completely or sufficiently, a condition called acid-reflux may occur, in which stomach acid travels back up into the esophagus. This can cause destruction to the esophagus, and if left untreated, can cause esophageal cancer.

Learn more about Organs

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How does food travel through the digestive system?

    A:

    Food begins its journey through the digestive system in the mouth, before being pushed by a series of involuntary muscle contractions through the esophagus, then the stomach, and then the small and large intestines. The digestive system is essentially a series of long, hollow organs lined with muscles that contract in a rhythmic pattern, known as peristalsis, to keep food moving in the correct direction.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do doctors pump your stomach?

    A:

    During a stomach pumping procedure, medical staff insert a plastic tube into a patient's stomach via the nose or mouth, extending it down the esophagus, explains Healthline. Next, a suctioning device is used to extract material from the stomach. Saline may be deposited into the stomach to prevent electrolyte imbalances.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What happens during an endoscopic procedure?

    A:

    An upper endoscopy involves inserting an endoscope, which is a thin tube with a camera and light at the edge, into the mouth, throat and esophagus, letting the physician examine the esophagus, stomach and small intestine, explains WebMD. During an endoscopic retrogade cholangiopancreaticography, a physician views images of the pancreas, gallbladder and nearby organs.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What tube connects the mouth and the stomach?

    A:

    The tube that connects the mouth and the stomach is the esophagus, according to Dictionary.com. The esophagus is a muscular passage found in vertebrate and invertebrate animals. It's sometimes referred to as the "gullet."

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore