Anatomy and physiology of the gastroesophageal junction

P. J. Kahrilas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The gastroesophageal junction is a complex valve composed of a smooth muscle element (LES) anti a diaphragmatic element. These normally supplement each other to maintain competence in a static condition and during dynamic stresses associated with increased intra-abdominal pressure or swallowing. These sphincteric components also interact with each other pathophysiologically. During swallowing, large hernias impair the process of esophageal emptying, thereby prolonging acid clearance. The susceptibility to stress reflux inherent during periods of diminished LES pressure is also dramatically increased by disabling the diaphragmatic sphincter. These functional impairments of the gastroesophageal junction associated with hiatus hernia lead to increased esophageal acid exposure and offer one explanation for the chronicity of reflux disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-486
Number of pages20
JournalGastroenterology Clinics of North America
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology

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