Impaired small intestinal peristaltic reflexes and sensory thresholds are independent functional disturbances in patients with chronic unexplained dyspepsia

Am J Gastroenterol. 1996 Mar;91(3):485-91.


Objective: To study disturbances of gastrointestinal motility and afferent (sensory) dysfunction in functional (unexplained) dyspepsia, and the interrelationships between motility and sensory dysfunction.

Methods: Twelve patients with functional dyspepsia and 12 controls matched for age and gender were studied. Intestinal perception thresholds were tested by a standardized stepwise distension procedure in the third portion of the duodenum with a barostat device. Small intestinal motility was measured with a low compliance perfusion system proximal and distal to the distending balloon.

Results: First perception of duodenal balloon distension occurred at significantly (p <0.01) lower pressures in patients (23 +/- 3 mm Hg, mean +/- SEM) than in healthy controls (31 +/- 3 mm Hg). Patients had a lower maximal intestinal pain tolerance than controls (31 +/- 2 mm Hg vs. 39 +/- 1 mm Hg, p <0.05). Duodenal distension inhibited intestinal motility distal to the distending balloon (peristaltic reflex) more often in health controls (11/12) than in patients with functional dyspepsia (5/12, p <0.05). These alterations of small intestinal motility occurred at pressure values below the perception thresholds, and disturbed motility responses were not associated with perception thresholds.

Conclusion: Disturbed peristaltic reflexes and decreased sensory thresholds for perception of intestinal sensations are prevalent but may be independent abnormalities in patients with unexplained dyspepsia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chronic Disease
  • Dyspepsia / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Peristalsis / physiology*
  • Reflex / physiology
  • Sensory Thresholds