Body Systems and Functions of the Various Parts of the Body

(the relative locations of sections of the body, or bodily organs, and their actions and activities)

cardiovascular system (s), cardiovascular systems (pl) (nouns)
Those vital areas in the body that consist of the heart, arteries, veins, capillaries, and blood. These bodily parts are involved in the circulations of blood and to transport oxygen and nutrients to cells, and to carry waste products to the kidneys where waste is removed by filtration.

The term cardiovascular refers to the heart and blood vessels and these body elements work together to pump blood to all of the areas of the body.

  • Blood is the fluid tissue which moves oxygen and nutrients to the other body tissues.
  • In addition, blood returns some waste elements from the tissues to the kidneys and carries carbon dioxide back to the lungs.
  • Blood cells are also important contributors to the immune system.
  • The heart is that hollow, muscular organ, which is located between the lungs and under normal conditions, it is a very effective pump that supplies the power to maintain the blood flow that is needed throughout the entire body system.
digestive system (s), digestive systems (pl) (nouns)
The components that are essential for the successful integration of food into the body; such as, the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, liver, and pancreas; all of which digest ingested (eaten) food or nutritional elements so they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and then these organs also eliminate body wastes.

The various digestive or gastrointestinal-tract systems include the following:

The oral cavity or mouth area:

  • The lips form the opening to the mouth.
  • When a person eats, the lips hold the food in the mouth and aid the tongue and cheeks to guide food between the teeth for chewing.

  • The palate that forms the roof of the mouth:

  • The hard palate is the bony back part of the palate which is covered with specialized mucous membrane.
  • The soft palate is the flexible back part which functions as closing the nasal passage during swallowing to prevent food and liquid from moving up into the nasal cavity.
  • The uvula hangs from the free edge of the soft palate and during the swallowing process, it moves up with the soft palate.

  • The tongue which helps in speech and moves food during chewing and swallowing:

  • The top of the tongue is the dorsum which has a tough protective covering and, in some areas, small bumps known as papillae which contain taste buds, which are the sensory receptors for the sense of taste.
  • The sublingual part of the tongue has tissues under the tongue that are covered with delicate tissues that are very vascular or containing many blood vessels.
  • The presence of the rich blood supply under the tongue makes it good for administering certain medications where they are quickly absorbed into the blood system.
  • The lingual frenum attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth and limits it movements.

  • Soft tissues of the mouth:

  • The periodontium that consists of the bone and soft tissues that surround and support the teeth.
  • The gingiva which is commonly known as the gums are the specialized mucous membrane that surrounds the teeth, covers the bone of the dental arches, and lines the cheeks.

  • The dental arches:

  • The boney parts of the mouth cavity include the maxillary and mandibular arches.
  • These formations are commonly referred to as the upper and lower jaws that hold the teeth in position for chewing and speaking.
  • At the back of the mouth where the maxillary and mandibular arches come together is call the temporomandibular joint.
  • The maxillary arch does not move because it is part of the skull.
  • The mandibular arch is a separate bone and it is a moveable part of the joint.

  • The teeth:

  • The natural teeth that are arranged in the upper and lower jaws are called dentition.
  • Human dentition includes four types of teeth:
    1. Incisors and canines, or cuspids, that make it possible to bite and to tear food apart.
    2. Premolars, or bicuspids, and molars that are used for the chewing and the grinding of food.
  • Primary dentition, or deciduous dentition, or "baby teeth", contain twenty teeth which are usually lost during childhood which consist of eight incisors, four canines, eight molars, and no premolars; all of which are replaced with the "permanent" teeth.
  • Permanent dentition normally has thirty-two teeth which include eight incisors, four canines, eight premolars, and twelve molars.
  • After the natural "permanent teeth" have been lost, the condition is called edentulous or "without teeth".
  • Occlusion of the teeth refers to the contacts that are made between the chewing surfaces of the lower and upper teeth.
  • Any situation that is not a "normal positioning" of the upper teeth against the lower teeth is called "malocclusion".

  • Salivary glands and saliva:

  • Saliva provides liquids for the mouth, begins the process of digestion, and lubricates food during the chewing and swallowing process all of which are provided by three pairs of salivary glands that secrete saliva which is carried by ducts into the mouth.
    1. The parotid glands that are located on the face in front of and slightly below each ear, have ducts on the inside of the cheek near the upper molars.
    2. The sublingual glands and their ducts are located on the bottom of the mouth are under the tongue.
    3. The submandibular glands are located on the bottom of the mouth with their ducts near the mandible.

    The pharynx, commonly known as the throat, controls the transportation of air, food, and liquids:

  • During swallowing, the soft palate, which is the muscular back part of the roof of the mouth moves up and backward to close off the nasopharynx which prevents food or liquids from going up into the nose.
  • There is also the epiglottis that is like a lid located at the base of the tongue and which swings downward and closes off the laryngopharynx so food doesn't go into the trachea (windpipe) and the lungs.

  • The stomach which is an organ like a sac that is shaped similar to a small bag:

  • The stomach is composed of the fundus (upper, rounded part), the body (main section), and antrum (lower portion).
  • Rugae are the folds in the mucosa that line the inside of the stomach and the glands that are located inside these folds produce gastric juices, which help to digest food and liquids, and mucus that functions to create a protective coating for the lining of the stomach.
  • In addition, there is the pyorus which is the narrow passage that connects the stomach with the small intestine.
  • Another section that exists before going into the duodenum is a kind of muscle that controls the flow of digested elements from the stomach.

  • The small intestine is a coiled organ that is up to twenty feet in length which goes from the pyloric sphincter to the first part of the large intestine and has three sections where food is digested and the nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream:

    1. The duodenum is the first part of the small intestine that extends from the pylorus to the jejunum.
    2. The jejunum consists of the middle section of the small intestine and goes from the duodenum to the ileum.
    3. Then the last and longest part of the small intestine goes from the jejunum to the cecum of the large intestine.
endocrine system (s), endocrine systems (pl) (nouns)
The glands and other structures that consist of the adrenal glands (near the kidneys), gonads, pancreas, parathyroids (glands situated above or within the thyroid gland), pineal (small, conical endocrine gland), pituitary (main endocrine gland in the head), thymus (glandular organ at the base of the neck), and thyroids (glands near the base of the neck); all of which are involved with the secretion of hormones that are released directly into the circulatory system, influencing metabolism and other body processes.
immune system (s), immune systems (pl) (nouns)
Complex units of interconnected or interdependent components or entities that function against foreign organisms or substances; such organs include, the tonsils, spleen, thymus, skin, and specialized blood cells; that defend the body against invading pathogens (germs) and allergens (substances that can cause allergies or sneezing, itching, and skin rashes).
integumentary system (s), integumentary systems (pl) (nouns)
The integumentary elements include the skin, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands; whose functions are to protect the body against the invasion of bacteria and to aid in regulating body temperature and water content.

Sebaceous glands are small oil-producing glands in the skin which are usually connected to a hair follicle by a duct into which it releases sebum, a component of the slightly greasy film on the skin that helps keep it flexible and prevents too much water loss or absorption.

The glands are distributed over the entire body except the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, most abundantly on the scalp and the face.

lymphatic system (s), lymphatic systems (pl) (nouns)
The lymphatic components are the lymph, lymphatic vessels, and lymph nodes; all of which remove and transport waste products from the fluid between the cells, destroy harmful substances; such as, pathogens and cancer cells in the lymph nodes; and in addition, they return the filtered lymph to the bloodstream where it becomes plasma again.

The following elements of the lymphatic and the immune systems function together to protect and to maintain the health of the body.

  • The lymph is the fluid that removes cellular wastes, pathogens, and dead blood cells from the tissues.
  • Lymphatic vessels and ducts return lymph from the tissue to the circulatory system.
  • Lymph nodes filter pathogens and harmful substances from the lymph.
  • Tonsils and adenoids protect the entry into the respiratory system.
  • The spleen filters foreign materials from the blood, maintains the appropriate balance betwwen cells and plasma in the blood, and destroys worn-out blood cells, releases hemoglobin, acts as a blood reservoir, and stores platelets.
  • Bone marrow produces blood cells.
  • Lymphocytes are the specialized white blood cells which play an important role in immune reactions.
  • The thymus secretes the endocrine thymosin that aids in the maturation of T lymphocytes which are used by the immune system.
  • The immune system defends the body against harmful substances; such as, pathogenic micro-organisms, allergens, toxins, and bad or dangerous cells.
muscular system (s), muscular systems (pl) (nouns)
The muscles, fascia, and tendons; which hold the body erect, make movements possible, and move the body fluids and produce body heat.

Fascia is the flat band of tissue under the skin that covers the underlying tissues and separates different layers of tissues; and it encloses muscles.

nervous system (s), nervous systems (pl) (nouns)
The organs in the body that utilize nerves, the brain, and the spinal cord; all of which coordinate the reception of stimuli and transmit messages throughout the body.
respiratory system (s), respiratory systems (pl) (nouns)
Breathing actions that involve the nose, pharynx, trachea, larynx, and lungs; providing oxygen into the body for transference to the cells of the body, and removing carbon dioxide and some water waste from the physical structure.
skeletal system (s), skeletal systems (pl) (nouns)
Primary structures of the body that include the bones, bone marrow, cartilage, joints, ligaments, synovial membrane, synovial fluid, and the bursa; all of which support and shape the body, protect the internal organs, and form some of the blood cells and store minerals.

The various parts of the skeletal system provide essential elements for the body to survive.

  • Bones provide the structures for the body, protect the internal organs, and store mineral calcium.
  • Bone marrow forms some blood cells while yellow bone morrow stores fat.
  • Cartilage creates a smooth surface for motions within the joints and also provides protection for the ends of the bones that are parts of the joints.
  • The joints, or points of connections between two bones, function with the muscles to make a variety of movements possible.
  • Ligaments are tough tissues that connect and allow for a range of motions of the joints between bones.
  • The synovial membrane forms the lining of synovial joints and secretes synovial fluid.
  • Synovial fluid is used to lubricate the joints so they can move smoothly and easily.
  • The bursa is the small fluid-filled sac located between movable parts of the body especially at the joints.
special senses (pl) (noun)
The eyes and ears are special senses that receive visual and auditory information and transmits it to the brain for physical functions.
urinary system (s), urinary systems (pl) (nouns)
The interconnected organs that include the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra; which all serve as filters of the blood that removes bodily waste, and maintains the electrolyte and fluid balances within the body.
—The information in this unit has been compiled after consulting the following sources:

ABC's of the Human Body; editor, Alma E. Guinness; Pleasantville, New York; 1987.

The American Medical Association Family Medical Guide; Editor-in-Chief, Jeffrey R.M. Kunz, MD;
Random House; New York; 1982.

The American Medical Association Home Medical Encyclopedia; Volumes One and Two;
Medical Editor Charles B. Clayman, MD; Random House;
published by The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.; with permission of Random House, Inc.; 1989.

The Body Almanac by Neil McAleer; Doubleday & Company, Inc.; Garden City, NewYork; 1985.

Health, Medicine and the Human Body edited by Bernard Dixon; MacMillan Publishing Company; NewYork; 1986.

The Language of Medicine, 2nd edition, by Davi-Ellen Chabner; W.B. Saunders Company; Philadelphia; 1981.

Young's Learning Medical Terminology, 6th edition, by Miriam G. Austrin and Harvey R. Austrin;
The C.V. Mosby Company; St. Louis, Missouri; 1987.

Your Body & How it Works by J.D. Ratcliff; Reader's Digest Press/Delacorte Press; New York; 1975.