Anatomy & Physiology Gastrointestinal #17


Which gastrointestinal disease process or disorder is caused by a malfunction in the lower esophageal sphincter?


  1. Peptic ulcer disease
    • Rationale:

      Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside linings of the stomach and small intestine.

  2. Intestinal obstruction
    • Rationale:

      An intestinal obstruction is a gastrointestinal (GI) condition that prevents digested material from passing normally through the bowel.

  3. Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Rationale:

      Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that causes recurrent abdominal pain in addition to constipation and/or diarrhea. It is often associated with anxiety, depression, previous intestinal infection, or stress.

  4. Gastroesophageal reflux disorder
    • Rationale:

      GERD occurs as a result of a malfunction with the lower esophageal sphincter causing chyme and other partially digested materials to backflow from the stomach to the esophagus causing a burning pain.


A sphincter is a circular muscle that maintains constriction of a body passage. The function of a sphincter is to decrease the backflow of substances from one structure to another.


Learning Outcomes

Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus. This backflow of stomach acids (i.e., acid reflux) can irritate the lining of the esophagus. While many people experience acid reflux periodically, GERD is diagnosed when this phenomenon occurs at least twice per week.

Test Taking Tip

Consider the function of the lower esophageal sphincter to answer this question correctly.

Video Rationale