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Stomach

An organ that is part of the digestive system. The stomach helps digest food by mixing it with digestive juices and churning it into a thin liquid. NIH - National Cancer Institute

Gastrointestinal (digestive) system anatomy; shows esophagus, liver, stomach, large intestine, and small intestine. Click to enlarge

Parts of the gastrointestinal tract National Institutes of Health

How Does the Stomach Work?

The stomach is a muscular hollow organ. It takes in food from the esophagus (gullet or food pipe), mixes it, breaks it down, and then passes it on to the small intestine in small portions.

The entire digestive system is made up of one muscular tube extending from the mouth to the anus. The stomach is an enlarged pouch-like section of this digestive tube. It is located on the left side of the upper abdomen and shaped somewhat like an oversized comma, with its bulge pointing out to the left. The stomach's shape and size vary from person to person, depending on things like people's sex and build, but also on how much they eat.

At the point where the esophagus leads into the stomach, the digestive tube is usually kept shut by muscles of the esophagus and diaphragm. When you swallow, these muscles relax and the lower end of the esophagus opens, allowing food to enter the stomach. If this mechanism... Read more about the Stomach

Terms to know

Esophagus
The muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach.
Gastric
Having to do with the stomach.
Large Intestine
The part of the intestine that includes the appendix, cecum, colon, and rectum. The large intestine absorbs water from stool and changes it from a liquid to a solid form. The large intestine is 5 feet long.
Small Intestine
The organ where most digestion occurs. It measures about 20 feet and includes the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.

Related conditions

Terms to know

Esophagus
The muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach....
Gastric
Having to do with the stomach....
Large Intestine
The part of the intestine that includes the appendix, cecum, colon, and rectum. The large intestine absorbs w...
See all 4

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