2.3.3. Stomach

stomach_diagramThe stomach lies between the esophagus and the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). It is on the left upper part of the abdominal cavity. The top of the stomach lies against the diaphragm. Lying behind the stomach is the pancreas. The greater omentum hangs down from the greater curvature.

Two sphincters keep the contents of the stomach contained. They are the esophageal sphincter (found in the cardiac region, not an anatomical sphincter) dividing the tract above, and the Pyloric sphincter dividing the stomach from the small intestine.

The stomach is surrounded by parasympathetic (stimulant) and orthosympathetic (inhibitor) plexuses (networks of blood vessels and nerves in the anterior gastric, posterior, superior andinferior, celiac and myenteric), which regulate both the secretions activity and the motor (motion) activity of its muscles.

In adult humans, the stomach has a relaxed, near empty volume of about 45 to 75 ml. Because it is a distensible organ, it normally expands to hold about one litre of food, but can hold as much as two to three litres. The stomach of a newborn human baby will only be able to retain about 30 ml.

Sections

The stomach is divided into four sections, each of which has different cells and functions. The sections are:

  • Cardia: Where the contents of the esophagus empty into the stomach.
  • Fundus: Formed by the upper curvature of the organ.
  • Body or Corpus: The main, central region.
  • Pylorus: The lower section of the organ that facilitates emptying the contents into the small intestine.
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