Getting Acquainted With the Esophagus Deglutitive function involves coordinated bolus movement from the mouth to the stomach. It is important to understand the functional anatomic and physiologic interrelationship of deglutitive phases. Although speech-language pathologists’ diagnostic, treatment, and management focus is the oral and pharyngeal phases of deglutition, as part of a multidisciplinary dysphagia team, ... Article
Article  |   June 01, 2003
Getting Acquainted With the Esophagus
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Caryn S. Easterling
    Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
  • Caryn Easterling is a speech-language pathologist and research scientist in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Her e-mail address is ceasterl@mail.mcw.edu.
Article Information
Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Articles
Article   |   June 01, 2003
Getting Acquainted With the Esophagus
SIG 13 Perspectives on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia), June 2003, Vol. 12, 3-7. doi:10.1044/sasd12.2.3
SIG 13 Perspectives on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia), June 2003, Vol. 12, 3-7. doi:10.1044/sasd12.2.3
Deglutitive function involves coordinated bolus movement from the mouth to the stomach. It is important to understand the functional anatomic and physiologic interrelationship of deglutitive phases. Although speech-language pathologists’ diagnostic, treatment, and management focus is the oral and pharyngeal phases of deglutition, as part of a multidisciplinary dysphagia team, we should also have an understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the esophageal phase. In addition, speech-language pathologists need to have an understanding of the appropriate diagnostic tests used by gastroenterologist in evaluation of the esophagus.
The 22–26 cm long esophagus (varying with body size) is a tubular structure composed of skeletal and smooth muscle. The three layers of the esophagus are squamous epithelium, the lamina propria, and the muscularis mucosa, which has two muscle layers: an inner circular muscle layer and an outer longitudinal muscle layer. The proximal 5% of the esophagus is composed of striated muscle, the middle 35–40% is mixed, and the distal 50–60% is entirely smooth muscle (Meyer, Austin, Brady, & Castell, 1986).
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