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Anatomy of the Stomach

The stomach is a J-shaped organ in the upper abdomen that makes up part of the digestive system. It is located between the end of the esophagus and the beginning of the first part of the small bowel (the duodenum).

Illustration of liver and biliary system
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The stomach is much like a bag with a lining. The lining contains these 5 layers:

  • Mucosa. The first and innermost layer, the mucosa, holds the glands that release digestive juices, called hydrochloric acid and pepsin.

  • Submucosa. The second layer, the submucosa, supports the mucosa. It is rich in blood vessels.

  • Muscularis. The third layer, the muscularis, contains muscles that help to mix food with the digestive juices.

  • Subserosa. This layer contains supporting tissues for the serosa.

  • Serosa. The serosa is the last and outermost layer. It is the lining that wraps around the stomach to confine it.

After food has been chewed and swallowed, it enters the stomach from the food pipe (esophagus). At this point, pepsin and hydrochloric acid are released and the muscles in the stomach lining create a rippling motion, which combines the food with the digestive juices. After about 2 to 3 hours, partially digested food moves into the small intestine, where it is broken down further and absorbed into the body.

anatomy of the stomach
The Stomach

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 2/11/2014
© 2013 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.