Anatomy word of the month: pylorus

May 1, 2011 —

The “gatekeeper” in Greek. This ring of muscle tissue surrounds the juncture between the stomach and the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum. It functions as a gatekeeper by preventing food from exiting the stomach until it has reached a thick, soup-like consistency. Stomach contents called chyme, “juice” in Greek, then is squirted into the small intestine for further digestive activity. Opening and closing the pyloris is controlled by a variety of influences including nerves to the stomach, the vagus nerves.

Strange words are found in familiar places. The massive support structures found at the entry, gateway, to a bridge are called “pylons”.


Dr. Dyche was born in New Jersey and trained at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center before coming to Des Moines in 1976. Over 30 plus years he has taught gross anatomy, embryology and neuroanatomy. He also served in administration as associate dean for basic sciences, dean of the College of Health Sciences, and acting director of the PA program. He was one of the founding instructors of CPR and ACLS at a time when few medical schools offered this training. He retired to Oregon in 2008, then returned to DMU in 2009. Did he miss the tornadoes, the below zero wind chills or the cadavers?