Digestive System

Digestive System/ The Gastrointestinal Tract
Salivary glands
Small Intestine
Gall Bladder
Root Words
cheil/o (lip, lips)
hepat/o (liver)
col/o (colon)
pancreat/o (pancreas)
dent/o (teeth)
proct/o (anus and rectum)
esophag/o (esophagus)
rect/o (rectum)
gingiv/o (gums)
stomat/o (mouth)
gloss/o (tongue)
-clysis (irrigation)
-scope, -scopy (look, examine)
-ectasia (dilation, stretching)
-toxin (poison)
Broken down, “gastrointestinal” indicates the gastric area, or the stomach, and the intestinal
area immediately following the stomach to the anus, the outlet of the GI system or tract. This
section of the head-to-toe assessment provides information about the health of these organs
and the function of digestion and bowel elimination, including potential problems. Closely
tied to the GI assessment is the abdominal assessment. These two areas are anatomically
so close together that they may even be documented in one section of a head-to-toe
assessment, providing data about masses, tenderness, and abnormalities inside the abdomen
The digestive tract begins at the mouth, the oral cavity. The human mouth is concerned with
vocalization as well as mastication (chewing) and swallowing. The anterior portion includes
lips, teeth, gums, a muscular tongue, related muscles, salivary glands, a bony palate, and
muscles of the cheek wall. All are concerned with wetting, macerating, and pulverizing
ingested material. The posterior portion of the oral cavity includes the soft palate, tongue,
tonsils, and taste buds.
mouth (stomat/o)
lip (cheil/o)
tongue (gloss/o)
gum (gingiv/o)
tooth (dent/o)
The function of the digestive system is to break down large food particles into smaller ones
that can pass across the membranes of cells and be absorbed. The digestive tract, also known
as the alimentary canal, consists of a single long tube extending from mouth to anus and
opened to the exterior at each end. The canal begins with the oral cavity. Here the teeth
pulverize ingested food. Meanwhile
it is softened and partly digested by salivary gland secretions. The tongue aids in mechanical
manipulation of the food and literally flips the food into the fibromuscular pharynx during
The oesophagus moves the food bolus along to the pouch like stomach by peristaltic
muscular contractions. Here the food mixes with acid and protein-digesting enzymes and is
retained until digested further.
Passing from the stomach, the food enters the first part of the small intestine, called the
duodenum. Liver-produced bile, stored in the gallbladder, is discharged into the duodenum
by bile ducts. Digestive enzymes from the pancreas enter the duodenum as well. The food
bolus continues through the highly coiled 20-foot-long small intestine.
A great portion of the abdominal cavity is taken up by the many folds and twists of this
organ. Small molecular nutrients are extracted and absorbed by cells lining the intestine.
These nutrients absorbed throughout the tract are transferred to capillaries and transported to
the liver by the hepatic portal system for processing and distribution to the body’s cells. The
colon or large intestine can be seen ascending along the anatomical right side, passing across
the midline, then turning and descending along the left. This organ is mainly concerned with
absorption of water, minerals, and certain vitamins. The non-nutritive residue of the ingested
food is compacted and moved through the rectum and the anal canal to the outside.
liver (hepat/o)
stomach (gastr/o)
pharynx (pharyng/o)
gallbladder (cholecyst/o)
esophagus (esophag/o)
duodenum (duoden/o)
intestine (enter/o)
colon (col/o)
rectum and anus (proct/o)
pancreas (pancreat/o)
rectum (rect/o)
anus (an/o)
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