Gastroenterology Disease & Disorders

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Colon Esophagus Gallbladder Intestine
Liver Pancreas Anal/Rectal Stomach

General Information

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Intestine

The large intestine (or large bowel) is the part of the digestive system where waste products from the food you eat are collected and processed into faeces.  The large intestine is about 1.5 m long and consists of the caecum, appendix, colon and rectum - which are distributed in the abdominal cavity. 

Colon

The colon, which is about 5 feet long, connects the small intestine to the rectum and anus. The major function of the colon is to absorb water, nutrients, and salts from the partially digested food that enters from the small intestine. Two pints of liquid matter enter the colon from the small intestine each day. Stool volume is a third of a pint. The difference between the amount of fluid entering the colon from the small intestine and the amount of stool in the colon is what the colon absorbs each day.

Gallbladder

The Gallbladder brings nutrients and waste from cell to cell. The Liver acts as the main filter for this blood and it is the main eliminator of waste in our body. Its job is to remove all forms of waste, including dead blood cells and toxins. The waste product that is created as a result of the Liver cleansing out toxins - is bile, which is being manufactured at all times.  Bile is the main substance responsible for the breaking down of fat in the digestive system. The gallbladder is the organ that receives the bile from the liver and stores it until it is needed in the digestive system to break down fats and cholesterols.

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Anal and Rectal

The rectum is a chamber that begins at the end of the large intestine, immediately following the sigmoid colon, and ends at the anus. Ordinarily, the rectum is empty because stool is stored higher in the descending colon. Eventually, the descending colon becomes full, and stool passes into the rectum, causing an urge to move the bowels (defecate). Adults and older children can withstand this urge until they reach a bathroom. Infants and young children lack the muscle control necessary to delay bowel movement.

 

The anus is the opening at the far end of the digestive tract through which stool leaves the body. The anus is formed partly from the surface layers of the body, including the skin, and partly from the intestine. The anus is lined with a continuation of the external skin. A muscular ring (anal sphincter) keeps the anus closed until the person has a bowel movement.

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Stomach

The human stomach is a muscular, elastic, pear-shaped bag, lying crosswise in the abdominal cavity beneath the diaphragm. It changes size and shape according to is position of the body and the amount of food inside.

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Esophagus

The esophagus is the food tube, or gullet, that carries food and liquid from the mouth to the stomach. The stomach churns the food and secretes a strong acid that aids in digestion. A specialized muscle, known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), is located at the end of the esophagus. This muscle normally contracts firmly, relaxing only to allow food and liquid to pass from the esophagus into the stomach. This muscle maintains a certain pressure to keep the end of the esophagus closed, preventing stomach acid and digested food from moving back into the esophagus.

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Liver

The liver is the largest organ in the body. It is found high in the right upper abdomen, behind the ribs. It is a very complex organ and has many functions. They include:

  • Storing energy in the form of sugar (glucose)
  • Storing vitamins, iron, and other minerals
  • Making proteins, including blood clotting factors, to keep the body healthy and help it grow
  • Processing worn out red blood cells
  • Making bile which is needed for food digestion
  • Metabolizing or breaking down many medications and alcohol
  • Killing germs that enter the body through the intestine

The liver shoulders a heavy workload for the body and almost never complains. It even has a remarkable power to regenerate itself. Still it should not be taken for granted. Certain conditions that develop, such as fatty liver and steatohepatitis, may be signs of liver injury that can lead to permanent liver damage.

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Pancreas

The pancreas produces chemicals that are crucial to proper digestion and blood sugar regulation. It is an abdominal gland, and is situated in the abdominal cavity, behind the stomach, close to the duodenum with its head pointed toward the small intestine. Both the exocrine and endocrine systems utilize this organ. Our body's endocrine system regulates hormones and other substances through its direct access to the bloodstream, cells, and organs. The exocrine system works via ducts to digest food in the intestinal tract.

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