Authors: Poonam Sharma, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 4 January 2018, last major update October 2011

Copyright: (c) 2003-2018,, Inc.

PubMed search: Embryology[TIAB] esophagus
Cite this page: Sharma, P. Embryology. website. Accessed October 22nd, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Notocord induces formation of foregut from endoderm
  • At day 21 (end of week 3), lateral walls of foregut develop septa that fuse and divide foregut into esophagus and trachea
  • At week 4, myenteric plexus develops
  • At weeks 5 - 6, septation of walls ends; initial lining is stratified columnar epithelium, which proliferates and almost occludes the lumen
  • At weeks 6 - 7, submucosal plexus develops, circular muscular layer develops
  • At weeks 6 - 7, epithelial vacuolization appears, vacuoles coalesce to form a single esophageal lumen
  • At week 8, ciliated cells appear and extend to almost entire columnar epithelium
  • At week 9, longitudinal muscle layer develops; interstitial cells of Cajal appear
  • At week 10, a single layer of columnar cells covers entire esophagus
  • At month 4, submucosal glands appear due to downward growth of columnar cells, extend distally to cardiac mucosa
  • At month 5, stratified squamous epithelium initially appears in midesophagus and replaces ciliated epithelium cephalad and caudally; proximal esophagus may retain ciliated epithelium at birth
  • At month 5, upper esophagus has both striated and smooth muscle
Diagrams / tables

Images hosted on other servers:

4 weeks - relation of gut to yolk sac

Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on PathOut server:

Images contributed by Dr. Grigory Demyashkin, I. M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Russia):

6 - 8 week embryo:

Upper left: small intestine;
bottom left: esophagus;
center: stomach; top right:
pancreas; right: liver

Top: spine; lower left:
trachea & esophagus;
center: lung,
glandular stage