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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2006 Mar;290(3):G431-8. Epub 2005 Oct 6.

Synchrony between circular and longitudinal muscle contractions during peristalsis in normal subjects.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, University of California, and San Diego Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, CA 92161, USA.


The current understanding is that longitudinal muscle contraction begins before and outlasts circular muscle contraction during esophageal peristalsis in normal subjects. The goal of our study was to reassess the relationship between the contractility of two muscle layers using novel ways to look at the muscle contraction. We studied normal subjects using synchronized high-frequency ultrasound imaging and manometry. Swallow-induced peristalsis was recorded at 5 and 10 cm above the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Ultrasound (US) images were analyzed for muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) and circularity index of the esophagus during various phases of esophageal contraction. A plot of the M mode US image, muscle CSA, and esophageal circularity index was developed to assess the temporal correlation between various parameters. The muscle CSA wave began before and lasted longer than the contraction pressure wave at both 5 and 10 cm above the LES. M mode US images revealed that the onset of muscle CSA wave was temporally aligned with the onset of lumen collapse. The peak muscle CSA occurred in close proximity with the peak pressure wave. The esophagus started to become more circular (decrease in circularity index) with the onset of the muscle CSA wave. The circularity index and muscle CSA returned to the baseline at approximately the same time. In conclusion, the onset of lumen collapse and return of circularity index of the esophagus are likely to be the true markers of the onset and end of circular muscle contraction. Circular and longitudinal muscle layers of the esophagus contract in a precise synchronous fashion during peristalsis in normal subjects.

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