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Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 May;98(5):1123-34.

Automated quantitative analysis of nocturnal jejunal motor activity identifies abnormalities in individuals and subgroups of patients with slow transit constipation.

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Gastrointestinal Physiology Unit, Academic Department of Surgery, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, United Kingdom.



Small bowel dysmotility has previously been demonstrated in some patients with slow transit constipation (STC), suggesting a generalized intestinal disorder. However, no study has addressed whether the incidence of small intestinal dysfunction differs between subgroups of patients in this heterogeneous population. Using appropriate methodology, we aimed to determine prospectively the proportion of individuals with abnormal small bowel motility, and to assess whether heterogeneity in terms of pattern of colonic transit delay (based on (111)In diethylene-triamine-pentaacetic acid (DTPA) isotope scintigraphy), or mode of onset (based on clinical history) is of importance.


Thirty-seven patients with STC underwent 24-h ambulatory jejunal manometry; data were compared with those obtained in 38 healthy controls. Automated quantitative analysis of seven variables of the nocturnal migrating motor complex was performed, to assess whether differences existed between groups, and whether individual patients had evidence of small intestinal dysmotility, defined as two or more measures of migrating motor complex variables outside the normal range. Four variables differed significantly between STC patients and controls: in phase III, propagation was slower, duration was longer, and contraction amplitude was higher; in phase II, contraction frequency was increased. Seven of 24 patients with a generalized pattern of colonic transit delay had abnormal small bowel motility compared with none of 13 with a left-sided delay (p < 0.04). These included four patients with chronic idiopathic symptoms and three with acquired symptoms. Approximately one third of patients with a generalized delay in colonic transit had evidence of jejunal enteric neuromuscular dysfunction. Individual patients with a left-sided colonic delay did not satisfy the criteria for nocturnal small bowel dysmotility, but as a group, some differences were noted from controls. In contrast to previous reports, evidence of generalized enteric dysmotility may be present irrespective of the mode of onset.

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