What is the Difference between a Valve and a Sphincter?

Valves and sphincters are structures that allow the flow of fluids in one direction and prevent backflow. Let us study valves and sphincters and the differences between the two.

What is a Valve?

A valve is a membranous structure that allows the one-way flow of fluids and prevents backflow. It is a flap-like structure in a hollow organ. The valves are an orifice that closes temporarily for the backflow of the fluid.

The mitral valve, aortic valve and tricuspid valves in the heart control the flow of blood in one direction.

What is a Sphincter?

Sphincters are ring-like muscles that contract and relax as required for the normal functioning of the body. All the sphincters are associated with a lumen. As the sphincter contracts, the lumen shortens and the passage remains closed, while as it relaxes, the lumen lengthens and the passage opens allowing the passage of liquids or gases.

There are over 60 types of sphincters in the human body such as the pyloric sphincter at the lower end of the stomach, the urethral sphincter that controls the flow of urine, etc.

Valve vs Sphincter

Valve Sphincter
It is a membranous structure found in hollow organs that allows the flow of fluids in one direction. It is a circular muscle that contracts and relaxes to allow bodily fluids to pass through the passages.
It is a flap-like structure. It is a ring-like structure.
Mitral valve, tricuspid valve and aortic valve. Sphincter of Oddi, pyloric sphincter and urethral sphincter.

Visit BYJU’S Biology for more concept-related topics.

Also Check:

Frequently Asked Questions on the Difference between a Valve and a Sphincter?


Where is the ileocecal sphincter located?

The ileocecal sphincter is located at the junction of the ileum and colon. It functions to pass the digested food from the small intestine to the large intestine.


Is the mouth a sphincter?

The mouth or Orbicularis oris is a muscle that functions as a sphincter.


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