Oesophageal Stage

The oesophageal stage is characterised by the movement of the food bolus from the proximal oesophagus to the distal oesophagus. The following diagram is a representation of the bolus (the black area) during the oesophageal stage.



As the bolus enters the oesophagus, it is moved towards the distal oesohagus, and then into the stomach by two distinct peristaltic waves. The first is the strongest, and will move the majority of the food to the stomach, while the second wave will clear any bolus residue left behind. The onset of the waves signals the lower oesophageal sphincter to relax, and allow the bolus into the stomach. The effectiveness of the wave is influence by how efficient the pharyngeal clearance was, and can also be negatively affected by multiple swallows. Depending on the consistency of the bolus, it can take three to ten seconds for the bolus to reach the stomach (Groher & Crary, 2003).


Groher, M., & Crary, M. (2003). Introduction to adult swallowing disorders. Philadelphia, PA: Butterworth-Heinemann.