The Oesophagus (Esophagus)


The oesophagus (a Greek word meaning ‘the way of food’) is an important part of the digestive system, taking food and drink to the stomach. A problem with the oesophagus therefore needs treatment – maybe medicines, stretching it a little, placing a tube inside it, operating on it or even taking it out.

You have a food tube (the oesophagus) and an air tube (trachea) travelling down through the chest. The trachea goes to the lungs and fills them with air. The oesophagus is a muscular tube which propels food downhill to the stomach where the digestive process starts.

You don’t just swallow by gravity; some of it goes down by gravity, but it also goes down because you have muscle round the outside that squeezes it down – this downward motility action is called peristalsis.

The diaphragm separates the chest from the belly. Your oesophagus goes through the diaphragm and you’ve got about 2 or 3cm of oesophagus in your belly at the top of your stomach.

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