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Pyloric Sphincter

The pyloric sphincter, or valve, is a strong ring of smooth muscle at the end of the pyloric canal which lets food pass from the stomach to the duodenum. It receives sympathetic innervation from the celiac ganglion. This structure is located in the pylorus, the region of the stomach that connects to the duodenum (the beginning of the small intestines). The pylorus narrows and thickens to create the ring of smooth muscle that is the pyloric sphincter. When contracted, it keeps the stomach shut at the far end so that it has a chance to digest proteins, allowing the digestive juices of the stomach to break them down into a substance known as chyme. When the chyme is ready, the sphincter opens, allowing it to pass into the duodenum and it does the majority of digestion and some absorption. If the stomach contents are dumped too early, digestion is disrupted, and people do not receive the full nutritional benefits of the food they consume.