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Anatomy of the Stomach

The stomach is a J-shaped organ in the upper abdomen. It’s part of the digestive system. It’s between the end of the food pipe (esophagus) and the start of the first part of the small bowel (duodenum).

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

  • Mucosa. The first and innermost layer or lining (mucosa) contains the glands that release digestive juices. These are called hydrochloric acid and pepsin. This is where most stomach cancers start.

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

  • Muscularis. The third layer (muscularis) is made of thick muscles. They help to mix food with the digestive juices.

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

  • Serosa. This is the last and outermost layer. It’s the lining that wraps around the stomach to confine it.

After you chew and swallow food, it enters your stomach from the food pipe. At this point, pepsin and hydrochloric acid are released. The muscles of your stomach 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. This is where it’s broken down further and, over time, absorbed into your body.

Online Medical Reviewer: Gersten, Todd, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stump-Sutliff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS
Last Review Date: 6/1/2016
© 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.