Understanding the Anatomy of the Gastrointestinal System


To digest and use the food you eat, your body has an incredible system referred to as the digestive tract. At Adult Gastroenterology Associates, we specialize in the health and maintenance of this important body system. Our wish is to help you gain a greater understanding of your GI health, and our physicians treat a broad array of digestive conditions and diseases. If you’re seeking a gastroenterologist in Tulsa, OK, our practice can help you find a digestive health specialist to meet your needs. Read on to find out more about the gastrointestinal tract and the role it plays in your health.

What should I understand about the GI system?

Your gastrointestinal tract is composed of a series of connected organs that carry and digest the food items you take in. By way of mechanical and chemical digestion, these parts of the body break down food into its most simple composition so that your body is able to extract the nutrients it requires and get rid of the waste byproducts. The intestinal tract consists of hollow organs, such as the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, and large bowel, that store and move nutrients through your body. Also grouped in the gastrointestinal tract are the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. These organs hold and produce digestive juices and enzymes, in addition to conducting other functions.

What are the structures of the gastrointestinal system?

The different parts of the intestinal tract all work together to perform the vital job of digestion. The organs of the digestive system in order of function include:

  • Oral Cavity: The first part of the digestive tract, the mouth is where chemical and mechanical digestion begin. We mechanically break food down into smaller bites by chewing, and our saliva begins the chemical digestive function.

  • Esophagus: Once food has been diminished into smaller pieces, it finds its way to our stomach by moving through the esophagus. The esophagus makes a series of muscular contractions as we swallow, propelling food to the next part of digestion.

  • Stomach: The stomach is a compartment located in the upper portion of the abdomen. It is where food is stored and mixed with acid and enzymes that propagate the chemical digestive function.

  • Pancreas: The pancreas generates enzymes that break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and creates insulin, which helps the body metabolize sugar.

  • Gallbladder: The important digestive chemical, bile, is stored in the gallbladder.

  • Liver: The liver performs a number of digestive functions, including the making of bile and breaking down toxins.

  • Small Bowel: The small intestine finishes digesting carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and the broken-down nutrients are taken up into the circulatory system.

  • Large Intestine/Colon/Appendix: In the large bowel, water is removed from processed food and the remnants are prepared to leave the body in the form of stool.

  • Rectum: The rectum is an organ located at the end of the colon that stores stool until it is ready to be eliminated.

  • Anus: Found at the very end of the GI system, the anus is composed of sphincter muscles that assist in controlling the evacuation of stool.

A practitioner who diagnoses, treats, and helps manage diseases of the gastrointestinal system is referred to as a gastroenterologist or GI doctor. Patients can find a gastroenterologist in Tulsa, OK through Adult Gastroenterology Associates, a physician-led network of board-certified specialists.

Why is the digestive tract so important?

The components that make up the gastrointestinal system work to help your body process and use important nutrients from the food you eat. This nourishment is then transformed to give your body the necessary energy, aid in growth and development, and maintain cells throughout the body. What is remaining following digestion then leaves the body as waste. Should you be impacted by gastrointestinal diseases, your ability to process food and evacuate waste may be impaired, which can significantly impact your general health.

How can I find a gastrointestinal doctor in Tulsa, OK?

If you’re having concerning symptoms related to your intestinal health, like persistent heartburn, diarrhea or constipation, bloody stools, or abdominal pain, we encourage you to meet with a GI doctor at Adult Gastroenterology Associates. Our physicians in Tulsa, OK aim to place the health of our patients first, incorporating advanced technologies and treatments to help preserve your digestive health. Should you experience any symptoms, require a colon cancer screening, or wish to find out more about preserving your intestinal health, you can count on Adult Gastroenterology Associates for the advanced care you need.