Upper gastrointestinal motor activity in patients with slow-transit constipation. Further evidence for an enteric neuropathy

Dig Dis Sci. 1996 Oct;41(10):1999-2005. doi: 10.1007/BF02093603.


Recent evidence indicates that patients complaining of severe chronic idiopathic constipation may have motor abnormalities not limited to the colon. We studied by manometric means gastric and small bowel motility in a homogeneous group of patients with chronic idiopathic constipation, ie, the slow transit type. Twenty-one patients were recruited for the study and compared to 33 healthy subjects. Manometric examination was carried out for about 5 hr fasting and 1 hr after a standard meal. Analysis of the manometric tracings revealed during fasting no abnormalities in number and configuration of migrating motor complex with respect to controls. However, in 70% of patients motor abnormalities were detected, represented by bursts of nonpropagated contractions and discrete clustered contractions. After feeding, the patient group displayed a significantly shorter antral motor response to the meal with respect to controls; moreover, intestinal bursts of nonpropagated contractions were found in 19% of patients, and 14% of them had an early return of the activity fronts. We conclude that patients with slow transit constipation frequently display motor abnormalities of the upper gut. These findings further strengthen the concept that this condition may represent a panenteric disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Constipation / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Motility*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / innervation
  • Male
  • Manometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Myoelectric Complex, Migrating
  • Postprandial Period