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Five facts about the esophagus

The Mayo Clinic Scientific Press suite of publications is now available on Oxford Medicine Online. To highlight some of the great resources, we’ve pulled together some interesting facts about the esphophagus from Stephen Hauser’s Mayo Clinic Gastroenterology and Hepatology Board Review.

(1) The esophagus has two major functions: to propel food boluses downward to the stomach and to keep stomach contents from refluxing upward. The esophagus accomplishes these functions by its tubular anatomy and motility that involves the contraction and relaxation of sphincter muscles and precisely timed peristaltic waves.

(2) The initial process of swallowing is under voluntary control. A swallow is initiated by the lips closing, the teeth clenching, and the tongue being elevated against the palate, forcing the bolus to the pharynx. Entry of the bolus into the pharynx triggers the involuntary swallowing reflex.

(3) Oropharyngeal dysphagia is often characterized by the complaint of difficulty initiating a swallow, transitioning the food bolus or liquid into the esophagus, meal-induced coughing or “choking,” or of food “getting stuck” in the voluntary phase of swallowing.

(4) Patients with an esophageal body or LES disorder describe “esophageal dysphagia” characterized by the onset of symptoms moments after the initiation of a swallow. They usually can sense that the food or liquid bolus has traversed the oral cavity and has entered the esophagus. They complain of food feeling “stuck” or “hung up” in transition to the stomach.

(5) Gastroesophageal reflux is the reflux of gastric contents other than air into or through the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) refers to reflux that produces frequent symptoms or results in damage to the esophageal mucosa or contiguous organs of the upper aerodigestive system and occasionally the lower respiratory tract.

Gastroenterology and hepatology encompass a vast anatomical assortment of organs that have diverse structure and function and potentially are afflicted by a multiplicity of disease processes. Mayo Clinic Gastroenterology and Hepatology Board Review is designed to assist both physicians in-training who are preparing for the gastroenterology board examination and the increasing number of gastroenterologists awaiting recertification.

The Mayo Clinic Scientific Press suite of publications is now available on Oxford Medicine Online. With full-text titles from Mayo Clinic clinicians and a bank of 3,000 multiple-choice questions, Mayo Clinic Toolkit provides a single location for residents, fellows, and practicing clinicians to undertake the self-testing necessary to prepare for, and pass, the Boards and remain up-to-date. Oxford Medicine Online is an interconnected collection of over 250 online medical resources which cover every stage in a medical career, for medical students and junior doctors, to resources for senior doctors and consultants. Oxford Medicine Online has relaunched with a brand new look and feel and enhanced functionality. Our aim is to ensure that the site continues to deliver the highest quality Oxford content whilst meeting the requirements of the busy student, doctor, or health professional working in a digital world.

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Recent Comments

  1. John Stringer

    I would spell it oesophagus. “Esphophagus” is unknown to me!

  2. Nicola

    @John Stringer: Whoops, thanks for pointing that out; we’ve now corrected the typo in the title. The article uses the US spelling of ‘esophagus’ (see: http://oxford.ly/UwtulY). – Nicola, blog editor

  3. [...] http://blog.oup.com/2013/01/five-facts-about-the-esophagus/ Share this:FacebookTwitterMoreTumblrLinkedInDiggRedditGoogle +1EmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in a way with words, fun with words 'n' stuff by ckeng. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  4. michelle

    Very helpful with project

    Thx :-) xoxo

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