Chapter 17 Digestive System List and describe the locations of the major parts of the alimentary canal



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Chapter 17

Digestive System


  1. List and describe the locations of the major parts of the alimentary canal.

  1. Mouth—the oral cavity.

  2. Pharynx—extends from the back of the nasal cavity to the top of the esophagus.

  3. Esophagus—extends from the pharynx to the stomach.

  4. Stomach—just below the diaphragm on the left side of the body.

  5. Small intestine—extends from the stomach to the large intestine.

  6. Large intestine—extends from the small intestine to the anus.

  1. List and describe the location of the accessory organs of the digestive system.

  1. Salivary glands—located in the oral cavity.

  2. Liver—lies just below the diaphragm on the right side of the body.

  3. Gallbladder—lies on posterior side of the liver.

  4. Pancreas—located behind the stomach, attached to the duodenum.

  1. Name the four layers of the wall of the alimentary canal.

  1. Mucosa or mucous membrane

  2. Submucosa

  3. Muscular layer

  4. Serosa or serous layer

  1. Distinguish between mixing movements and propelling movements.

A mixing movement is a wavelike motion back and forth. A propelling movement is one where the muscle contraction occurs in the wall of the tube but the muscles just ahead in the tube relax.

  1. Define peristalsis.

Peristalsis is defined as the rhythmic propelling movements that occur in the alimentary canal.

  1. Explain the relationship between peristalsis and receptive relaxation.

Receptive relaxation is where the muscular wall ahead of peristaltic contraction relaxes. This allows the tubular contents to be pushed along the canal.

  1. Describe the general effects of parasympathetic and sympathetic impulses on the alimentary canal.

Parasympathetic impulses generally increase the activity of the digestive system. Sympathetic impulses generally are opposite of the parasympathetic impulses, thereby decreasing the activity of the digestive system. This would then mean that peristalsis increases when innervated by the parasympathetic nervous system and would decrease when innervated by the sympathetic nervous system.

  1. Discuss the functions of the mouth and its parts.

The mouth receives food and prepares it for digestion by mechanically breaking up the size of solid particles and mixing them with saliva. The cheeks are the outer layers of skin, pads of subcutaneous fat, and the muscles associated with expression and chewing. The lips are highly mobile structures that contain skeletal muscles and the sensory receptors that surround the mouth. They are used in distinguishing the temperature and texture of foods. The tongue is a body of skeletal muscle and taste receptors. The function of the tongue is to mix food particles with saliva during chewing and move food toward the pharynx during swallowing.

  1. Distinguish among the lingual, palatine, and pharyngeal tonsils.

The lingual tonsils are found on the root of the tongue and are rounded masses of lymphatic tissues. The palatine tonsils are masses of lymphatic tissues found in the back of the mouth, on either side of the tongue, and closely associated with the palate. The pharyngeal tonsils, also known as the adenoids, are masses of lymphatic tissue that occur on the posterior wall of the pharynx, above the border of the soft palate.

  1. Compare the primary and secondary teeth.

Primary teeth are the first set of teeth that erupt through the gums at regular intervals between the ages of six months and two and one-half years. There are twenty primary teeth - ten in each jaw. The secondary teeth begin to appear about age six but may not be completed until somewhere between ages seventeen and twenty-five. There are thirty-two secondary teeth - sixteen in each jaw.

  1. Explain how the various types of teeth are adapted to perform specialized functions.

The incisors are chisel-shaped, and their sharp edges bite off relatively large pieces of food. The cuspids are cone-shaped, and they grasp and tear food. The bicuspids and molars have somewhat flattened surfaces and are specialized for grinding food particles.

  1. Describe the structure of a tooth.

Each tooth consists of two main portions called the crown and the root. The crown is the portion above the gum and is covered by glossy white enamel. Beneath the enamel is the bulk of the tooth, which is made up of dentin. Dentin surrounds the central cavity, which houses the blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. The root is enclosed by cementum, which is surrounded by the periodontal ligament. The region where the crown and root meet is called the neck.

  1. Explain how a tooth is anchored in its socket.

Cementum and the periodontal ligament anchor the tooth.

  1. List and describe the locations of the major salivary glands.

The parotid glands are the largest salivary glands and are located in front of, and somewhat below, each ear between the skin of the cheek and the masseter muscle. The submandibular glands are located in the floor of the mouth on the inside surface of the lower jaw. The sublingual glands are the smallest of the salivary glands and are on the floor of the mouth under the tongue.

  1. Explain how the secretions of the salivary glands differ.

The parotid glands secrete a clear, watery fluid that is rich in amylase. The submandibular glands secrete a serous fluid with some mucous, making it more viscous than the parotid gland secretion. The sublingual glands secrete a thick and stringy mucous fluid.

  1. Discuss the digestive functions of saliva.

The serous cells found in the salivary glands produce a watery fluid that contain amylase. Amylase is a digestive enzyme that splits starch and glycogen molecules into disaccharides. This is the first step of carbohydrate digestion.

  1. Name and locate the three major regions of the pharynx.

  1. Nasopharynx—located above the soft palate.

  2. Oropharynx—located behind the soft palate and projects downward to the upper border of the epiglottis.

  3. Laryngopharynx—located from the upper border of the epiglottis downward to the lower border of the cricoid cartilage of the larynx.

  1. Describe the mechanism of swallowing.

The steps in the mechanism of swallowing are:

  1. The soft palate raises, preventing food from entering the nasal cavity.

  2. The hyoid bone and the larynx are elevated; the epiglottis closes off the top of the trachea so that food is less likely to enter.

  3. The tongue is pressed against the soft palate, sealing off the oral cavity from the pharynx.

  4. The longitudinal muscles in the pharyngeal wall contract, pulling the pharynx upward toward the food.

  5. The lower portion of the inferior constrictor muscles relaxes, opening the esophagus.

  6. The superior constrictor muscles contract, stimulating a peristaltic wave to begin in the pharyngeal muscles. This wave forces the food into the esophagus.

  1. Explain the functions of the esophagus.

The esophagus functions as a tube that transports substances from the pharynx to the stomach.

  1. Describe the structure of the stomach.

The stomach is a J-shaped, pouchlike organ. Thick folds called rugae mark its inner lining. Its mucous membrane lining contains the gastric pits that are the openings for the gastric glands that secrete digestive enzymes.

  1. List the enzymes in gastric juice, and explain the function of each enzyme.

  1. Pepsin—is a protein-splitting enzyme, which is the beginning of nearly all types of dietary protein. The chief cells secrete pepsinogen (the precursor of pepsin) that then combines with hydrochloric acid to form pepsin.

  2. Intrinsic factor—aids in the absorption of vitamin B12.

  1. Explain how gastric secretions are regulated.

Parasympathetic impulses and the hormone gastrin enhance the gastric secretions. The presence of the food in the small intestine reflexly inhibits the gastric secretions.

  1. Describe the mechanism that controls the emptying of the stomach.

The chyme accumulates near the pyloric sphincter. This muscle begins to relax. The pyloric region of the stomach then pumps the chyme a little at a time into the small intestine. The rate at which the stomach empties is dependent upon the fluidity of the chyme and the type of food present.

  1. Describe the enterogastric reflex.

The enterogastric reflex inhibits the gastric peristalsis and the secretion when the food enters the small intestine.

  1. Explain the mechanism of vomiting.

Sensory impulses travel from the site of stimulation to the vomiting center in the medulla oblongata, and a number of motor responses follow. These include taking a deep breath, raising the soft palate and thus closing the nasal cavity, closing the opening to the trachea (glottis), relaxing the circular muscle fibers at the base of the esophagus, contracting the diaphragm so that it moves downward over the stomach, and contracting the abdominal wall muscles so that pressure inside the abdominal cavity increases. As a result, the stomach is squeezed from all sides, forcing its contents upward and out through the esophagus, pharynx, and mouth.

  1. Describe the locations of the pancreas and the pancreatic duct.

The pancreas is an elongated, somewhat flattened organ that is posterior to the stomach and behind the parietal peritoneum. It is attached to the duodenum by the pancreatic duct, which runs the length of the pancreas.

  1. List the enzymes in pancreatic juice, and explain the function of each enzyme.

  1. Pancreatic amylase—functions to digest carbohydrates.

  2. Pancreatic lipase—functions to digest triglycerides.

  3. Trypsin—functions to digest protein.

  4. Chymotrypsin—functions to digest protein.

  5. Carboxypeptidase—functions to digest protein.

  6. Nucleases—functions to break nucleic acids into nucleotides.

  1. Explain how pancreatic secretions are regulated.

Secretin stimulates the release of pancreatic juice that has a high bicarbonate ion concentration. Cholecystokinin stimulates the release of pancreatic juice that has a high concentration of digestive enzymes. Acidic chyme in the duodenum triggers the release of pancreatic juice. As the chyme moves through the intestine the pancreatic juice is inhibited.

  1. Describe the structure of the liver.

The liver is enclosed in a fibrous capsule and divided into lobes by connective tissue. Each lobe is further subdivided into hepatic lobules. These are the functional units of the liver. Each lobule consists of hepatic cells that radiate outward from a central vein.

  1. List the major functions of the liver.

  1. Carbohydrate metabolism

  2. Lipid metabolism

  3. Protein metabolism

  4. Glycogen and vitamin storage

  5. Blood filtering

  6. Detoxification

  7. Secretion of bile

  1. Describe the composition of bile.

Bile is composed of bile salts, bile pigments (bilirubin and biliverdin), cholesterol, and electrolytes.

  1. Trace the path of bile from a bile canal to the small intestine.

The bile flows from the bile canal into hepatic ducts. The ducts then merge to form the common hepatic duct. It then can flow into the gallbladder for storage. The common hepatic and cystic duct form the common bile duct. This then empties into the duodenum.

  1. Explain how gallstones form.

Gallstones form as a result of cholesterol precipitating out of solution and crystallizing. This can result if the bile becomes too concentrated, the hepatic cells secrete too much cholesterol, or the gallbladder is inflamed.

  1. Define cholecystokinin.

Cholecystokinin is a hormone that is released in response to chyme in the duodenum. It then triggers the release of pancreatic juice from the pancreas, and bile from storage in the gallbladder.

  1. Explain the functions of bile salts.

Bile salts emulsify fats and aid in the absorption of fatty acids, cholesterol, and certain vitamins.

  1. List and describe the locations of the parts of the small intestine.

  1. Duodenum—the first twenty-five centimeters of the small intestine, it lies behind the parietal peritoneum. It is the most fixed portion of the small intestine.

  2. Jejunum—the proximal two-fifths of the remainder of the small intestine.

  3. Ileum—the remainder of the small intestine.

  1. Name the enzymes of the intestinal mucosa, and explain the function of each enzyme.

  1. Peptidases—splits peptides into amino acids.

  2. Sucrase—splits sucrose into glucose.

  3. Maltase—splits maltose into fructose.

  4. Lactase—splits lactose into galactose.

  5. Intestinal lipase—splits fats into fatty acids and glycerol.

  1. Explain regulation of the secretions of the small intestine.

These secretions are stimulated by the direct contact with chyme, which provides both chemical and mechanical stimuli, and by reflexes triggered by distention of the intestinal wall. It is inhibited by the lack of chyme in the small intestine.

  1. Describe the functions of the intestinal villi.

  1. The villi serve to increase the surface area of the intestinal wall.

  2. Monosaccharides, amino acids, fatty acids, and glycerol are absorbed by the villi.

  3. Fat molecules with longer chains of carbon atoms enter the lacteals of the villi.

  4. Other digestive products enter the villi and are carried away by the blood.

  1. Summarize how each major type of digestive product is absorbed.

  1. Monosaccharides are absorbed by the villi by diffusion, facilitated diffusion, or active transport. The blood then carries them away.

  2. Amino acids are absorbed by the villi by means of active transport. The blood then carries them away.

  3. Fatty acids and glycerol are absorbed by diffusion into the lacteals of the villi. They are then carried away by lymph.

  4. Diffusion and active transport into the villi absorb electrolytes.

  5. Water is absorbed by osmosis into the villi.

  1. Explain control the movement of the intestinal contents.

The major mixing movement is segmentation, in which small, ringlike, contractions occur periodically, cutting the chyme into segments moving it back and forth. Peristaltic waves propel the chyme through the small intestine. These are weak waves so that the chyme moves slowly through the small intestine.

  1. List and describe the locations of the parts of the large intestine.

The cecum is a dilated, pouchlike structure that hangs slightly below the ileocecal opening. This represents the beginning of the large intestine. The colon is divided into four parts. The ascending colon begins at the cecum and travels upward against the posterior abdominal wall to a point just below the liver. It turns sharply to the left and becomes the transverse colon. This is the longest and most movable part of the large intestine. As the transverse colon approaches the spleen, it turns abruptly downward and becomes the descending colon. At the brim of the pelvis, the descending colon makes an S-shaped curve, called the sigmoid colon, and then becomes the rectum. The rectum is firmly attached to the sacrum and it ends about five centimeters below the tip of the coccyx. It now is known as the anal canal. The anal canal is the last two and one-half to four centimeters of the large intestine. It ends at the anus, which opens to the outside of the body.

  1. Explain the general functions of the large intestine.

  1. It has little or no digestive function.

  2. It secretes mucous.

  3. Absorption is generally limited to water and electrolytes.

  4. Formation and storage of feces.

  1. Describe the defecation reflex.

A person holds a deep breath and contracts the abdominal wall muscles. This increases the internal abdominal pressure and forces the feces into the rectum. As the rectal wall distends, this triggers the defecation reflex. Peristaltic waves in the descending colon are stimulated, and the internal anal sphincter relaxes. The external sphincter relaxes and the feces are forced to the outside.

  1. What are the effects of altered rates of absorption, due to aging, in the small intestine?

Because the small intestine is the site of absorption of nutrients, it is here that noticeable signs of aging on digestion arise. Subtle shifts in the microbial species that inhabit the small intestine alter the rates of absorption of particular nutrients. With age, the small intestine becomes less efficient at absorbing vitamins A, D, and K and the mineral zinc. This raises the risk of deficiency symptoms—effects on skin and vision due to a lack of vitamin A; weakened bones from inadequate vitamin D; impaired blood clotting seen in vitamin K deficiency; and slowed healing, decreased immunity, and altered taste evidenced in zinc deficiency.

  1. How does digestive function change with age?

Older people sometimes do not chew food thoroughly because thinning enamel makes teeth more sensitve to hot and cold foods, gums recede, and teeth may loosen.

Slowing peristalsis in the digestive tract may cause heartburn and constipation.



Aging affects nutrient absorption in the small intestine.

Accessory organs to digestion also age, but not necessarily in ways that affect health.


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