oesophagus (abdominal section, anatomy)

Last reviewed 01/2018

The abdominal section of the oesophagus is the shortest part along its course. It runs from the oesophageal aperture in the diaphragm, where it is tightly bound by fibrous connective tissue - the phreno-oesophageal ligament, for about a centimetre to the cardiac orifice. It enters the abdomen slightly to the left of the midline at the level of the tenth thoracic vertebra (7th costal cartilage).

Then, it projects obliquely anteriorly, to the left and inferiorly during which its relations are:

  • anteriorly:
    • anterior vagal trunk and plexus on its surface
    • peritoneum
    • oesophageal groove on posterior surface of left lobe of liver
  • posterior:
    • posterior vagal trunk and plexus on its surface
    • diaphragm
    • loosely attached peritoneum where the folds of the gastrophrenic ligament are reflected posterosuperiorly
  • left:
    • continuation of peritoneal fold encircling oesophagus as the upper part of the greater omentum
    • fibres of right crus
  • right:
    • upper margin of lesser omentum
    • right crus of diaphragm
    • inferior vena cava
  • inferiorly:
    • on right, there is a smooth progression into the lesser curvature of the stomach
    • on left, cardiac notch separating oesophagus from fundus of stomach

The right crus and the oblique passage of the oesophagus inferior to the diaphragm may both have a role in minimizing reflux.