The Shape Of the Stomach
By Atom Bergstrom
Is the stomach a J-shaped organ in the upper belly?
That’s what medical textbooks tell us.
Yes. No. Maybe.
“When it’s empty, your stomach looks like an unexpanded J-shaped balloon,” goes the narrative.”
Robert Coleman Kent, M.D. (Stomach, Intestines, and Pancreas, 1917) wrote …
“There are variations in the shape of the stomach and yet all the functions, as well as its position may be normal. The most frequent types of stomach are the cow-horn, text-book, drain-trap (water-trap) and fish-hook. The fish-hook and drain-trap frequently occur with gastroptosis [downward displacement of the stomach] and the possibility of these peculiar shapes being an accessory in producing gastroptosis through weight of the food in the trap or hook position might suggest itself. Though the infant stomach directly after birth was formerly believed to be vertical and that it later assumed the adult position, it has been recently demonstrated that there is no definite normal type of stomach in the infant. Pisck and LeWald in their radiographs distinguish the (1) ovoid or Scotch bag-pipe shape; (2) the tobacco-pouch or retort shape; and the (3) pear-shaped stomach. The stomach was larger than the ordinary conception, and infant stomachs were characterized by their rapid motility — the food rapidly escaping through the pylorus.”
Alfred E. Barclay, M.D. (The Stomach and Œsophagus: A Radiographic Study, 1913) wrote …
“The stomach is not a fixed organ and it is easily displaced by even slight forces. For instance if the splenic flexure is distended with gas the stomach may be displaced to the right, or if the patient’s abdomen is pressed upon, the lowest border may be moved upwards by two inches or more.
“This is the description of the normal stomach, but, as I have already said, it is by no means always found in persons who have never suffered from any gastric trouble. It is a fact that the stomach may present an appearance that is far from normal and yet fulfill its functions perfectly.”