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Dig Liver Dis. 2003 Aug;35(8):552-6.

Are colonic regular contractile frequency patterns in slow transit constipation a relevant pathophysiological phenomenon?

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Gastroenterology and Hepatology Section, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Perugia, 06131 San Marco (Perugia), Italy.



Pathogenesis of slow transit constipation still remains elusive. Some studies have shown several colonic motor abnormalities; however, it is not easy to understand the relative importance of the single ones.


Since it has been hypothesized that an excess of periodic distal motor activity may be of pathophysiological importance in patients with slow transit constipation, we evaluated regular colonic contractile frequencies in a homogeneous cohort of these patients.


A total of 26 female patients (age range 34 to 67 years) fulfilling the Rome II criteria for constipation entered the study. No patient had evidence of secondary forms of constipation and distal obstruction.


Twenty-four hour colonic manometric studies were obtained for each patient. Regular contractile patterns (with frequencies ranging from 2 to 8 cycles/min) were calculated for the entire recording period and in single colonic segments.


Overall, regular patterns accounted for about 3% of the total colonic motor activity (average 30 min/day per subject), with the 3 cycles/min being the predominant contractile rhythm. Most of this activity was present in the sigmoid colon, accounting for >50% of the total amount of motility, and it was more prevalent than in the descending and transverse colon; no differences were revealed in the descending with respect to the transverse colon. No daily fluctuations of regular contractile activity, nor a cyclic pattern, nor migration between recording points were observed.


Regular colonic frequency patterns are probably of minor pathophysiological importance in slow transit constipation, even in the light of the scant amount of such phenomena previously documented in healthy subjects.

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