Peristalsis is a series of wave-like muscle contractions that moves food to different processing stations in the digestive tract. The process of peristalsis begins in the esophagus when a bolus of food is swallowed. The strong wave-like motions of the smooth muscle in the esophagus carry the food to the stomach, where it is churned into a liquid mixture called chyme.
Next, peristalsis continues in the small intestine where it mixes and shifts the chyme back and forth, allowing nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine walls.
Peristalsis concludes in the large intestine where water from the undigested food material is absorbed into the bloodstream. Finally, the remaining waste products are excreted from the body through the rectum and anus.
Review Date: 10/10/2008
Reviewed By: Christian Stone, M.D., Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2009 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.