Friday, July 29, 2011


In some animals, including vertebrates, echinoderms, insects (mid-gut) and molluscs, the stomach is a muscular, hollow, dilated part of the alimentary canal which functions as an important organ of the digestive tract. It is involved in the second phase of digestion, following mastication (chewing). The stomach is located between the oesophagus and the small intestine. It secretes protein-digesting enzymes and strong acids to aid in food digestion, (sent to it via oesophageal peristalsis) through smooth muscular contortions (called segmentation) before sending partially-digested food (chyme) to the small intestines.

The word stomach is derived from the Latin stomachus which is derived from the Greek word stomachos, ultimately from stoma (στόμα), "mouth". The words gastro- and gastric (meaning related to the stomach) are both derived from the Greek word gaster.

The stomach lies between the oesophagus 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.

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

In humans, the stomach has a relaxed, near empty volume of about 45 ml. It is a distensible organ. It normally expands to hold about 1 litre of food, but will hold as much as 2-3 litres (whereas a newborn baby will only be able to retain 30ml).

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