The oesophagus (gullet)
The oesophagus is also known as the gullet. It’s part of the digestive system and is sometimes called the gastro-intestinal tract (GI tract).
The oesophagus is a long, muscular tube that connects your mouth to your stomach and is around 25cm (10in) long in adults.
When you swallow food, the walls of the oesophagus contract to move the food down the oesophagus to the stomach.
The upper part of the oesophagus lies behind, but is separate from, the windpipe (trachea). The windpipe connects your mouth and nose with your lungs, enabling you to breathe.
The area where the oesophagus joins the stomach is called the gastro-oesophageal junction.
There are a number of lymph nodes close to the oesophagus.
The oesophagus has four layers:
The mucosa - the inner layer or lining, which is moist to help food pass down into the stomach.
The submucosa - this contains glands that produce mucus (phlegm), which keeps the oesophagus moist.
The muscularis - the muscle layer, which pushes food down to the stomach.
The adventitia - the outer covering, which attaches the oesophagus to surrounding structures.