All about the esophagus

The esophagus is a digestive organ located in the chest.

esophagus, stomach, mouth, pharynx, upper esophageal, lower esophageal, esophageal sphincter, esophageal cancer, esophageal, barrett's esophagus,
Photo: Merk Medical Manuals

At about 10 inches long, 4mm thick (the width of about 3 pennies) and with a diameter of 24 mm (the diameter of a quarter); its main purpose is to move food from the mouth to the stomach.

A hollow tube, the esophagus leads from the throat (pharynx) to the stomach.

Food moves from the mouth through the esophagus when a person swallows and the upper esophageal sphincter opens.

The upper esophageal sphincter is located where the throat and esophagus meet and only opens through eating food or vomiting.

The food then passes into the stomach through muscular contractions by the esophagus otherwise known as “peristalsis.”

Above where the esophagus and the stomach meet is another muscle band called the lower esophageal sphincter.

The lower esophageal sphincter is contracted so that food and stomach acid does not flow up from the stomach, through the esophagus and into the mouth (also known as acid reflux or GERD.)

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