What is the Digestive Tract?

The digestive tract is a twisting tube about 30 feet long. It starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. In between are the esophagus, stomach and bowels (intestines). The liver and pancreas are the organs that aid in digestion by producing bile and pancreatic juices which travel to the intestines. The gallbladder stores bile until the body needs it for digestion. 

What Does the Digestive Tract Do?

The digestive system breaks down food and fluids into much smaller nutrients. In this complex process, blood carries the nutrients throughout the body to nourish cells and provide energy. The GI tract is divided into two main sections: the upper GI tract and the lower GI tract.

  • Upper GI tract — mouth, pharynx, esophagus and stomach. The stomach leads to the small intestine.
  • Lower GI tract — intestines (bowel) and the anus. The bowel is made up of two sections:
    • Small intestine — the duodenum, jejunum and ileum
    • Large intestine — the cecum (where the appendix is attached), colon and rectum

In addition, the liver, pancreas and gallbladder produce digestive juices to aid the digestion of food.

Medical College of Wisconsin physicians, along with physician assistants, nurses and other specialized team members, provide care for patients with a wide range of complex diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

Learn more about treatment for the following conditions:

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Froedtert Hospital is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as high performing in three adult specialties and 16 procedures and conditions, including gastroenterology and GI surgery.

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