Effect of ethanol on motility of the small intestine

E. A. Robles, E. Mezey, C. H. Halsted, M. M. Schuster

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62 Scopus citations


The effect of the acute administration of ethanol on small intestinal motility was measured in 11 chronic alcoholic subjects and in 2 normal volunteers. Frequency, amplitude and duration of Type I and Type III waves were determined, and the combination of these parameters expressed as motility index for each wave. Following the administration of ethanol, in a dose of 0.8 g/kg, either by the oral or iv route, there was in the jejunum a consistent decrease in Type I wave motility, but no change in Type III. By contrast, in the ileum there was an increase in Type III wave motility, but no change in Type I. Motility was not affected by the administration of a solution of orange juice equivolumetric to the ethanol solution, while administration of equivalent hypertonic solution of urea and amino acids was followed by a different pattern of nearly complete suppression of Type I and Type III jejunal motility. The suppression following ethanol administration of Type I (impeding) waves in the jejunum and the stimulation of Type III (propulsive) waves in the ileum may contribute to the diarrhea frequently seen in binge drinking alcoholic patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalJohns Hopkins Medical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1974

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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