What anatomy is relevant in esophageal spasm?

Updated: Aug 07, 2019
  • Author: Ahmad Malas, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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The esophagus is composed of two layers of muscle, the inner circular and the outer longitudinal layers. The esophagus can be divided into three zones, each with separate yet integrated anatomy and physiology.

The function of the upper and lower esophageal sphincters is coordinated with the oropharynx, esophageal body, and stomach. Within the swallowing process, voluntary and involuntary control mechanisms act together. In the esophagus, the activity of the two types of muscle, striated (voluntary) and smooth (involuntary), is intimately coordinated. This distinction has functional significance because most esophageal motor abnormalities involve the smooth muscle portion.

A number of mechanisms for the initiation and control of esophageal motor activity are located at different levels within the central nervous system, as well as peripherally within the intramural nerves and muscles. This redundancy has implications for the operation of reserve mechanisms when a primary control mechanism is damaged or dysfunctional.

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