The stomach is an essential part of the digestive system. This large, muscular chamber connects to the esophagus on the top and the lower intestine on the bottom. Located at the left side of the abdomen, behind the ribs, the stomach carries out a variety of digestive functions. Its size and shape vary according to a person's build and sex and the amount of food they ate. It has the ability to increase to five times its normal size to adapt to a large meal. It allows for storage of up to one-half gallon of food and beverages before digestion begins.
The esophagus connects to the stomach, allowing food to pass into it through an opening called the cardia. The cardial notch, found at the top of the cardia, opens and closes to prevent food and drink from coming back up into the esophagus. The pylorus is a muscular, funnel-shaped valve that fills up with air when swallowing occurs. Its wider end, the pyloric antrum, connects to the stomach. The narrower end of the pylorus, the pyloric canal, connects to the duodenum, the opening of the small intestine. The fundus is the part of any hollow organ that is farthest from the opening; in the case of the stomach, this is the upper left side, near the cardia.
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