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Stomach - want to learn more about it?

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Stomach

The stomach is part of the digestion system and essential for the nutrient supply to the body. Its acidic gastric juice acts as a barrier to bacteria which could otherwise infiltrate the intestines and other abdominal organs.

In terms of anatomy, the stomach is composed of the cardia, fundus, body, and pylorus. The entrance and exit into and out from the stomach is regulated by two sphincters. In terms of histology, the predominant type of epithelium covering is columnar.

This article will describe both the anatomy and histology of the stomach, focusing on its parts, layers, blood supply, and innervation

Key facts about the stomach
Anatomical parts Cardiac part, fundus (lesser and greater curvatures), corpus, pyloric part, esophageal and pylorus sphincters
Mucosal layers Seroa, subserosa, muscularis externa (external, longitudinal, middle circular, and inner oblique layers), submucosa, mucosa (columnar epithelium)
Blood supply

Common hepatic, splenic, and left gastric arteries

Innervation Vagus and splanchnic nerves

Macroscopic Anatomy

The stomach may be subdivided into four sections:

  • Cardiac part - Below the diaphragm, the abdominal part of the esophagus becomes the cardiac part of the stomach. Here the ingested food reaches the stomach through the cardiac orifice.
  • Fundus - Further cranially lies the dome-like fundus filled with gas (in the upright body position), which is sharply separated from the cardia by the cardiac incisure.
  • Corpus - The largest part of the stomach is the corpus (or body), which forms the lesser curvature (cranial) and the greater curvature (caudal).
  • Pyloric part - The corpus is followed by the pyloric part, which is perpendicular to the long axis of the stomach. The pylorus sphincter marks the lower end of the stomach and the entrance to the duodenum.

Mucosa and muscular layers of the stomach - anterior view

Microscopic Anatomy

Histologically the stomach wall is divided into five layers. From superficial to deep there is the:

  • Serosa (peritoneum)
  • Subserosa
  • Muscularis externa - It consists of an external longitudinal, a middle circular and an inner oblique layer.
  • Submucosa - This layer consists of loose connective tissue with large blood vessels.
  • Mucosa - It

     lines the stomach cavity and consists of an about 1 mm high single-layer columnar epithelium which is covered by a 100 to 200 µm thick mucus carpet. Further gastric foveolae (at which ends the gastric glands sit) extend up to the muscularis mucosa. The tubular glands are formed by different exocrine cells which secrete various substances – depending on the part of the stomach. 

    In the corpus and fundus there are mainly mucous neck cells, parietal cells, chief cells, but also enteroendocrine cells. The mucous neck cells produce mucous for the alkaline mucus carpet which protects the epithelium from self-digestion through gastric juice. On the other hand, the parietal cells secrete hydrogen and chloride ions which bond together to hydrochloric acid and keep the pH level of the stomach at around 1 to 1,5. The chief cells release an inactive precursor of the pepsin enzyme, the pepsinogen. In the gastric juice it is activated through the acidic milieu and starts it proteolysis functions.

Blood Supply

The three main arteries supplying the stomach are the:

  • Common hepatic artery - Its branches supply the greater and lesser curvature.
  • Splenic artery - It supplies the posterior stomach wall, fundus and the greater curvature.
  • Left gastric artery - Its branches participate in the supply of the upper part of the lesser curvature.

They all arise from the coeliac trunk, a branch of the abdominal aorta.

Innervation

The stomach is innervated sympathetically and parasympathetically. The parasympathetic supply comes from the vagus nerve (cranial nerve X). Both of its branches (anterior and posterior vagal trunk) stimulate the gastric glands and musculature, which leads to slow peristaltic contractures during the passage of chime.

Sympathetic fibers from the splanchnic nerves are responsible for the motor innervation of the pylorus and the sensory innervation of the stomach mucosa.

Recommended video: Stomach in situ
Stomach in situ seen from an anterior view of the abdomen with the liver retracted.

Highlights

The macroscopic parts of the stomach consist of:

  • Cardiac part
  • Fundus
  • Corpus
  • Pyloric part

Histologically the stomach wall is divided into five layers. From superficial to deep there is the:

  • Serosa
  • Subserosa
  • Muscularis externa
  • Submucosa
  • Mucosa

The three main arteries supplying the stomach are the:

  • Common hepatic artery
  • Splenic artery
  • Left gastric artery

Innervation for the stomach is via the:

  • Vagus nerve - parasympathetic supply
  • Splanchnic nerves - sympathetic supply

Stomach - want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

Sign up for your free Kenhub account today and join over 852,397 successful anatomy students.

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

References:

  • A.Faller/ M. Schünke: Der Körper des Menschen, 14. Auflage, Thieme Verlag
  • Silbernagl/Despopoulos: Taschenatlas Physiologie, 6. Auflage, Thieme Verlag
  • Tittel K.: Beschreibende und funktionelle Anatomie des Menschen, Urban & Fischer Verlag
  • Benninghoff/Drenckhahn: Anatomie, Band 2, 16. Auflage (2004)
  • Herold: Innere Medizin, Auflage 2010
  • Fritsch, Kühnel: Taschenatlas der Anatomie, Thieme Verlag

Author & Layout:

  • Christopher A. Becker
  • Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy

Illustrators:

  • Mucosa and muscular layers of the stomach - anterior view - Rebecca Betts
© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

Related Atlas Images

Stomach in situ

Musculature and mucosa of the stomach

Stomach

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