MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: Why is vomit green?

Date: Sun Mar 11 23:47:16 2001
Posted By: Lynn Bry, MD/PhD, Department of Pathology, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Area of science: Anatomy
ID: 984342698.An

Ahhh... vomit, one of my least favorite bodily fluids.

Unless you have been eating copius amounts of spinach, or drinking too much crème de menthe, the green color in vomit comes from bile. To those of us that have been medically trained, the color signifies something else, namely that some of the revisited foodstuffs likely made it into the distal reaches of the duodenum, or first part of the small intestine, before they were upchucked.

Bile, which is produced in the liver, and used to help absorb fats into the body, enters the gut in a structure called the Ligament of Treitz. This internal structure contains the common duct leading from the liver and gallbladder, and empties into the duodenum.

Vomit that is not green tinged, but perhaps yellow-tinged or clearish (barring the peas and carrots) has not made it to this region of the gut.

Here's to keeping your food down.

-L. Bry, MadSci Admin

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