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. 2004 Mar;33(2):154-9.
doi: 10.1093/ageing/afh040.

Effects of Ageing on Gastrointestinal Motor Function


Effects of Ageing on Gastrointestinal Motor Function

Jan L Madsen et al. Age Ageing. .


Background: Existing data on the effect of ageing on gastrointestinal motility are few. In this study, we assessed the propulsive effect of all main segments of the gastrointestinal tract in a group of healthy older people.

Methods: 16 healthy volunteers (eight women, eight men) of mean age 81 years (range 74-85 years) participated in the study. Gastric emptying and small intestinal and colonic transit rates were determined by gamma camera technique. The technique was also used to measure the postprandial frequency of antral contractions. Furthermore, we assessed the effects of gender, body mass index and smoking on the motility variables. The results were compared with data from 16 healthy individuals (eight women, eight men) of mean age 24 years (range 20-30 years).

Results: Advanced age did not influence gastric emptying or small intestinal transit rate. Older individuals had a slower colonic transit than young individuals (P = 0.0008). No difference was found in postprandial frequency of antral contractions between older and young subjects. None of the motility variables was affected by gender or body mass index. Smokers had a faster colonic transit than non-smokers (P = 0.0022).

Conclusion: Normal ageing seems to reduce the propulsive capacity of the colon, whereas gastric and small intestinal motility is not affected.

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