Welcome to Components of a GI Assessment! As you probably know, the GI tract is 23 to 26 feet in length and is made up of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and the small and large intestines. Did you know the small intestine is the longest section of the digestive tract and is about 3.5 times the body’s length? Did you know that the large intestine is only approximately 5 feet long, much shorter than the small intestine? The designation of "small" and "large" has to do with the width of the tube not the length. The GI tract’s primary functions are: breaking down food for digestion, absorbing nutrients into the bloodstream, and eliminating food and other wastes. But, problems can happen such as bleeding, perforation, obstruction, inflammation, and cancer. Also, the GI tract can be affected by mental health, like stress and anxiety, as well as fatigue or dietary changes. Since there are structural changes that happen in the GI tract as people age, a large number of elderly individuals will present with difficulties chewing or swallowing, reflux and heartburn, food intolerances, malabsorption of Vitamin B12, and constipation. Since there are many problems that can occur in the GI tract, a thorough assessment is critical. Auscultation of the abdomen is an important component of any GI assessment, but will not be discussed in this course. This course reviews the common components of GI health history and physical exam, as well as the steps involved in percussion and palpation of the abdomen.