The pylorus consists of two parts and is the area of the stomach that is connected to the start of the small intestine. This part of the small intestine is called the duodenum. The pyloric antrum is the part of the pylorus that connects to the stomach. The part that connects to the duodenum is known as the pyloric canal.
The pylorus is a cone-shaped structure that marks the end of the stomach and the beginning of the small intestine. The primary function of the pylorus is to keep food from going back into the stomach once it has moved into the small intestine. It also works to limit the amount of undigested food that is able to move into the intestinal tract.
At the end of the pyloric canal, there is a valve called the pyloric sphincter. This valve allows food to pass into the duodenum from the stomach. The nerve supply for this valve comes from the celiac ganglion. This is a mass of nerve tissue located in the upper abdomen.
Pyloric stenosis is a common medical ailment that affects the pylorus. This condition often presents soon after birth and causes severe and uncontrollable vomiting. In some cases, pyloric stenosis becomes present in adulthood. While given the same name, this type of pyloric stenosis is not the same as the infantile version.
The type of pyloric stenosis present at birth is also referred to as infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis. This condition affecting the pylorus is caused when there is stenosis, or a narrowing, in the opening between the stomach and the intestines. It is unknown whether this condition is actually present at birth or if it develops within the first few weeks.
In the adult version of pyloric stenosis, the pylorus is usually narrowed. This is believed to be caused in many cases by peptic ulcers. If this becomes a chronic problem, scarring of the pylorus and surrounding areas causes the stenosis to develop. A physical examination is not likely to be enough to confirm a diagnosis of pyloric stenosis. Blood tests are often used when this condition is suspected. An ultrasound is often required in order to accurately diagnose or confirm the diagnosis of pyloric stenosis.
Treatment of medical conditions affecting the pylorus, such as pyloric stenosis, can sometimes be difficult. Only a few cases are mild enough to be treated without surgical intervention. With surgery being the preferred and most successful method of treatment, it is important to note that there are usually no long-term side effects from the surgery, and the prognosis is generally excellent.