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Esophagus Anatomy

Food passes from the oral cavity down the esophagus and then into the stomach. Endoscopically, the esophagus has a smooth, homogeneous, pink-tinged mucosa.

As food/medicine travels down the esophagus, it can get trapped & cause local tissue destruction. commonly occur in areas where the esophagus is in close association with surrounding structures causing natural constriction points.

  • Cricopharyngeus (esophageal inlet- ~16 cm)

  • Crossing of the aortic arch (~23 cm)

  • Left main bronchus (~25 cm)

  • Diaphragmatic hiatus (~38 cm)

  • GE junction present ~40 cm

Endoscopists/Clinicians submit esophageal biopsies the esophagus and label them as a measure of the distance the patient's incisors (teeth) to the biopsy site. In men, the esophagus is typically 40 cm long.

The esophagus is surrounded by a layer of adventitia in contrast to most other GI organs which have an additional serosal layer as added protection. The lack of the serosal surface accounts for more rapid spread of infections or tumors from the esophagus to distant organs.

Now that you are acquainted with "normal", we can start to explore commonly encountered esophageal pathology such as Barrett's esophagus. Continue learning!


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