Trauma Survivors Network - provided by ATS

Survive. Connect. Rebuild.

A Program of the ATS

Glossary of Terms

Esophagus – the long tube in the chest that carries foods and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. 

Stomach – the stomach is positioned at the end of the esophagus and is the first organ to aid in the digestion of food.

Small intestine – the intestine that is positioned between the stomach and the colon. It breaks down food, absorbs some nutrients and then moves the food into the colon. The three parts of the small intestine are the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum. Colon (large intestine) – absorbs the final nutrients and water from food before the body expels the food as stool.

Large Intestine - includes the cecum, the transverse colon, the sigmoid colon and the rectum.

Liver – the largest organ in the body. The liver is positioned in the upper right part of the abdomen. It filters blood, aids in blood clotting, secretes bile to aid in digestion of fats, regulates glucose (sugar) and breaks down some drugs. The liver contains many blood vessels that can be severely damaged. Injury to the liver can also damage the biliary system, which is responsible for making, storing and releasing bile.

Gallbladder – a sac on the underside of the liver that stores bile from the liver.

Spleen – an organ in the upper left part of the abdomen that is often injured. The spleen filters infection-causing waste and bacteria from blood. The spleen is another highly vascular organ (filled with blood vessels) that, if injured, can lead to significant bleeding that can be life threatening. In certain situations, removal of the spleen may be required to control bleeding. A person can live without a spleen, but he or she will need to take vaccines every six years to lower the risk of infection.

Pancreas – This organ is positioned beneath the stomach and next to the duodenum. It has many complex functions. The pancreas is rarely injured in a traumatic event and does not tend to bleed. However, if the pancreas is injured, the results of the injury are extremely complex and may be life threatening.

Kidneys – two bean shaped organs that filter waste from the blood and control the amount of fluid in the body. After the waste is filtered, it is expelled from the body as urine. Injury to a kidney causes severe bleeding. If the bleeding is severe it may require removal of the injured kidney.

Adrenal Glands – small glands that reside in the abdomen next to kidneys. These glands have multiple functions. Most importantly, they help regulate amounts of salt, sugar, estrogen, testosterone and adrenaline in the body. The adrenal glands can be injured in trauma.