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Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Explain the histological structure of the esophagus.
  2. Identify the features of the wall layers of the esophagus.

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The esophagus is a hollow muscular organ in the digestive system that connects the throat and the stomach. The esophagus has a histological structure typical of the digestive system.

The inner mucosa consists of a multilayered, nonkeratinized squamous epithelium. This special epithelial layer protects the esophagus from mechanical wear and tear caused by the food bolus during swallowing. The lamina propria contains collagen fibers, numerous blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. There are also smooth muscle fibers of the lamina muscularis mucosae, which form longitudinal folds in the mucosa and make the lumen appear star-shaped.

The following submucosa contains submucous glands, which form the mucus for the epithelial layer. The muscular coat of the esophagus is divided into three sections. The upper third consists of skeletal muscle, the lower third only consists of smooth muscles (external longitudinal and internal circular), and both forms occur in the middle section. The outer adventitia consists of connective tissue and serves to connect the esophagus to the surrounding structures.

Watch the following video to learn more about the histological features of the esophagus:

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