The stomach has several functions:
1. it acts as a reservoir for food,
2. it processes it into fluid chyme which facilitates the absorption of nutrients from the small intestine,
3. it regulates the delivery of food to the small intestine where the nutrients are absorbed,
4. it produces acid which is bacteriostatic, since ingested food is not sterile, and it also produces the correct pH for pepsin to function.
The stomach is located in the left upper part of the abdomen immediately below the diaphragm. In front of the stomach are the liver, part of the diaphragm, and the anterior abdominal wall. The pancreas, the left kidney, the left adrenal, the spleen and the colon are located behind it. When the stomach is empty, it contracts, and the transverse colon ascends to occupy the vacated space. The size, shape, and position of the stomach can vary quite considerably depending upon the extent of its contents as well as upon the tension in the muscles of its walls. The opening from the oesophagus into the stomach is the gastrooesophageal sphincter or junction. It is also known as the cardia. The pylorus is the outlet from the stomach into the duodenum.
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