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J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2012 Jan;18(1):6-12. doi: 10.5056/jnm.2012.18.1.6. Epub 2012 Jan 16.

Deglutitive inhibition, latency between swallow and esophageal contractions and primary esophageal motor disorders.

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Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London, London, UK.


Swallowing induces an inhibitory wave that is followed by a contractile wave along the esophageal body. Deglutitive inhibition in the skeletal muscle of the esophagus is controlled in the brain stem whilst in the smooth muscle, an intrinsic peripheral control mechanism is critical. The latency between swallow and contractions is determined by the pattern of activation of the inhibitory and excitatory vagal pathways, the regional gradients of inhibitory and excitatory myenteric nerves, and the intrinsic properties of the smooth muscle. A wave of inhibition precedes a swallow-induced peristaltic contraction in the smooth muscle part of the human oesophagus involving both circular and longitudinal muscles in a peristaltic fashion. Deglutitive inhibition is necessary for drinking liquids which requires multiple rapid swallows (MRS). During MRS the esophageal body remains inhibited until the last of the series of swallows and then a peristaltic contraction wave follows. A normal response to MRS requires indemnity of both inhibitory and excitatory mechanisms and esophageal muscle. MRS has recently been used to assess deglutitive inhibition in patients with esophageal motor disorders. Examples with impairment of deglutitive inhibition are achalasia of the LES and diffuse esophageal spasm.


Deglutition disorders; Esophageal; Latency; Swallows

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