Digestive System Anatomy for Hepatitis Patients Part Two

The Formation Of Chyme

Mature medicine pointing at oesophagus

The digestive system is a part of the body affected by hepatitis. Hence, it is necessary to comprehend the structure and function of the organs involved in the digestive system, particularly the gastrointestinal tract, and how the body normally digests and absorbs food, in order to better understand the nature of hepatitis and its impact. There are two types of peristalsis that occur in the esophagus.

First is the primary peristaltic wave, which is triggered once the bolus is swallowed down to the gullet. Its “wave,” which lasts for a few seconds, forces the bolus to move down to the esophagus up to the stomach. If the bolus gets ensnared in the esophagus or if the rate of movement of the bolus gets slower than the rhythm of the wave, which usually happens if the bolus is poorly lubricated with salivary glands, the waves will occur incessantly. Then, stretch receptors from the esophagus lining are stimulated - triggering secondary peristaltic ripples that further coerce the bolus down the esophagus. This secondary wave will circuitously transpire until the bolus is finally thrust all the way down to the stomach.

There are bands of muscle that act as guarding posterns between the boundaries of pharynx, esophagus and stomach. The upper esophageal sphincter is located below the junction of the pharynx and esophagus.

On the other hand, the lower esophageal sphincter is located slightly above the junction of esophagus and stomach. These sphincters contract in order to dictate the flowing of the food and stomach acids and to avoid spillage through the mouth. This contraction happens when the esophagus is not in use, but, during swallowing, the upper sphincter relaxes so that the food can be budged from the pharynx through the esophagus.

The lower sphincter then opens as the food passes from the esophagus to the stomach.

 Hepatitis and Anatomy: The Stomach as the Digestive System’s Reservoir

The stomach is the most dilated aspect of the digestive tube. It serves as a whopping reservoir and temporary storage for the chewed foods until it is ready to move on for the many chemical processes of the digestion. It is a J-shaped tube which has thick muscles that helps the stomach in stowing and breaking down of food. The stomach lies in the left side of the upper abdominal cavity.

Hepatitis sufferers should also remark that the stomach is responsible in mechanically breaking down the foods into small particles. It churns and breaks down the food and mixes it with the gastric acid. This gastric secretion includes acid, mucus, enzymes and intrinsic factors, which helps the muscles involuntarily moving in the stomach to produce a soupy puree from the ball of chewed food, called chyme. These acids are not the ones accountable for literally breaking down the food, but rather, they convert the stomach into a disinfecting tank where certain bacteria are being obliterated and the toxins and other microorganisms present in the food are inactivated.

Another protein excreted by the stomach is called pepsin. Pepsin starts the digestion of protein. The stomach also secretes intrinsic factor needed to absorb vitamin B12 present from the food consumed.

Hepatitis and Anatomy: The Stomach as the Facilitator

Once the stomach has warehoused the chewed food, it will send missives in the form of hormones to the other organs of the digestive system that the food has arrived – prompting the secretion of pancreatic juices and bile from the liver and gallbladder, which are responsible in further shattering down the chyme as it relocates to the small intestine.


Kararli TT. Comparison of the gastrointestinal anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry of humans and commonly used laboratory animals. Biopharm Drug Dispos. 1995 Jul;16(5):351-80.

Ménard D. Functional development of the human gastrointestinal tract: hormone- and growth factor-mediated regulatory mechanisms. Can J Gastroenterol. 2004 Jan;18(1):39-44.

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