It refers to the area of the body located at the upper mid region of the abdomen.
Medical experts tend to divide the abdomen of the human body into nine different areas.
The Epigastric region of the abdomen, also known as Epigastrium, is one of those areas, located between two sections called the left and right hypochondria.
By dividing the abdomen into specific regions, doctors and surgeons have a way to precisely diagnose patients’ symptoms and locating structures within their bodies.
What is it?
The epigastric region of the abdomen encapsulates a lot of organs. Some of them are so big that they extend into other abdominal sections.
The Epigastrium includes the Esophagus, which is a muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach.
At the lower end of this organ, people can find a bundle of muscles, known as the “lower esophageal sphincter,” that prevents acid and other stomach contents from going outside and upwards from the stomach.
Another organ found in the epigastric region is the Stomach, the muscular organ that breaks down and digests the food that it receives from the esophagus to extract nutrients.
The Liver is also a part of the Epigastrium; it is the largest solid organ of the abdomen, and it’s essential due to its several functions such as protein synthesis and detoxification of the blood to name a few.
Slightly below the stomach people can find the Pancreas, an organ that plays a significant role in regulating blood sugar and contributes to the process of digesting fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
The epigastric region of the body also includes the Spleen, an organ located right above the stomach.
It functions as a blood filter removing old red blood cells and recycling iron from the hemoglobin to make new red blood cells.
The first section of the small intestine, known as Duodenum, is part of the Epigastrium too. It is the shortest part of the small intestine, according to experts it’s only 25 cm long.
The Duodenum plays a significant role in the digestion process by breaking down the partially digested food that comes from the stomach and prepares it for the small intestine to absorb it.
People can find in this area the Adrenal Glands (also called Suprarenal Glands), which are small and triangular-shaped endocrine glands located at the top of each kidney.
These glands are responsible for the production of several hormones such as adrenaline, aldosterone, and cortisol.
Given this particular area of the body involves so many organs, several conditions can cause pain or discomfort in that region of the abdomen.
One of the most typical diseases that affect the Epigastrium is Gastritis, a condition that features inflammation of the lining of the stomach.
Gastritis can be the result of an immoderate intake of alcohol, excessive use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, infection, physical trauma, anemia, or even stress.
The excess of medications can lead to another health issue known as the Peptic Ulcer Disease, a break in the lining of the stomach and, in some cases, the duodenum.
Peptic ulcers are open sores that can lead to internal bleeding if left untreated.
Another condition that can affect the epigastric region is Pancreatitis, which refers to the inflammation of the Pancreas due to drinking too much alcohol, gallstones, or overactive digestive enzymes.
Peritonitis is an inflammatory condition that directly affects the tissues that line the inner wall of the abdomen covering the abdominal organs including the structures within the Epigastrium.
More often than not, the factor that leads to the development of Peritonitis is an infection caused by bacteria, fungi, or an injury.
Several types of hernias can also negatively impact the Epigastrium. For example, a Hiatal Hernia occurs when the upper portion of the stomach protrudes through the esophageal hiatus.
The cause of this type of hernias can be related to obesity, pregnancy, old age, or the thinning of the phreno-esophageal membrane.
Some cancers can affect the epigastric region. Some examples are the stomach, pancreatic, and liver cancer.
However, some health issues involving the Epigastrium are not as severe as the ones described so far.
For example, Heartburn, also known as Acid Reflux, refers to an irritation of the esophagus due to stomach acid flowing back up into the esophagus.
Another minor issue is Indigestion (or Dyspepsia), which doctors define as the inability or difficulty in digesting some foods.
In some cases, these issues are the symptoms of an underlying condition. That is why people must consult a doctor when they display such signs.