Gross anatomy


  • Tube that connects the pharynx (at the level of C6) to the stomach (at the level of T11)
  • Length: ∼ 25 cm
  • Located between trachea and spine
  • Crosses the diaphragm at T10 through the esophageal hiatus
    • The thoracic esophagus is extraperitoneal.
    • The abdominal part is intraperitoneal.
  • Constrictions of esophagus
    • Cricopharyngeal sphincter at C6
    • Crossing of aortic arch at T4/5
    • Crossing of left main bronchus at T5/6
    • Crossing of diaphragm (esophageal hiatus) (T10)


  • Passage for food and liquids between the oropharynx and stomach
    • Peristaltic contractions of the esophageal muscles assist in moving food downwards.


Arteries Veins Lymphatics
Cervical portion
  • Esophageal branches of inferior thyroid artery
Thoracic portion
  • Azygos and hemiazygos veins
Abdominal portion
  • Esophageal branches of left gastric arteries
  • Left gastric vein (which drains into the portal circulation)


Microscopic anatomy


  • Derived from the embryonic foregut
  • Fusion of lateral mesodermal ridges in the midline separates the esophagus from the trachea at 26 days' gestation

Clinical significance

last updated 02/18/2019
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