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a circular muscle that constricts a passage or closes a natural orifice. When relaxed, a sphincter allows materials to pass through the opening. When contracted, it closes the opening. Four main sphincter muscles along the alimentary canal aid in digestion: the cardiac sphincter, the pyloric sphincter, and two anal sphincters. Other sphincters are found in the iris of the eye, the bile duct (sphincter of Oddi), the urinary tract, and elsewhere.
anal sphincter (sphincter a´ni) either of two sphincters (the internal and external anal sphincters) that open and close to control evacuation of feces from the anus.
cardiac sphincter a sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach, opening at the approach of food that can then be swept into the stomach by rhythmic peristaltic waves.
sphincter of Oddi a sheath of muscle fibers investing the associated bile and pancreatic passages as they traverse the wall of the duodenum.
pyloric sphincter a sphincter at the opening from the stomach into the duodenum; it is usually closed, opening only for a moment when a peristaltic wave passes over it.
urinary sphincter, artificial a fluid-filled system that surrounds the urethra with a silicone cuff that functions as a sphincter; a pump is in the scrotum and a fluid reservoir is in the abdomen. For urination, the pump's release valve is squeezed to allow the fluid to leave the urethral cuff and return to the reservoir; after urination is complete, the pump is squeezed and the fluid returns to the cuff to occlude the urethra.
ex·ter·nal a·nal sphinc·ter[TA]
a fusiform ring of striated muscular fibers surrounding the anus, attached posteriorly to the coccyx and anteriorly to the central tendon of the perineum; it is subdivided, often indistinctly, into a subcutaneous part, a superficial part, and a deep part for descriptive purposes.
A sphincter that closes the anus, composed of two parts: the external one being of striated muscle, the internal one, of smooth muscle.
See also: sphincter