Assessment of colonic motor dysfunction is rarely done because of inadequate methodology and lack of knowledge about normal motor patterns. Here we report on elucidation of intraluminal pressure patterns using High Resolution Colonic Manometry during a baseline period and in response to a meal, in 15 patients with constipation, chronically dependent on laxatives, 5 healthy volunteers and 9 patients with minor, transient, IBS-like symptoms but no sign of constipation. Simultaneous pressure waves (SPWs) were the most prominent propulsive motor pattern, associated with gas expulsion and anal sphincter relaxation, inferred to be associated with fast propagating contractions. Isolated pressure transients occurred in most sensors, ranging in amplitude from 5-230 mmHg. Rhythmic haustral boundary pressure transients occurred at sensors about 4-5 cm apart. Synchronized haustral pressure waves, covering 3-5 cm of the colon occurred to create a characteristic intrahaustral cyclic motor pattern at 3-6 cycles/min, propagating in mixed direction. This activity abruptly alternated with erratic patterns resembling the segmentation motor pattern of the small intestine. High amplitude propagating pressure waves (HAPWs) were too rare to contribute to function assessment in most subjects. Most patients, dependent on laxatives for defecation, were able to generate normal motor patterns in response to a meal.
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