Is colonic electrical activity a similar phenomena to small-bowel electrical activity?


PURPOSE: This study was designed to investigate colonic spike bursts regarding 1) their migration behavior, 2) their pressure correlates, and 3) comparing colonic short spike bursts with spike bursts from migrating myoelectric complex from the small bowel. METHODS: Rectosigmoid electromyography and manometry were recorded simultaneously in seven normal volunteers and electromyography alone in five others during two hours of fasting and for two hours after one 2,100-kJ meal. One patient with an ileostomy was also studied by the same method to record the migrating myoelectric complex from the terminal ileum during fasting. RESULTS: Three kinds of spike bursts were observed in the pelvic colon: rhythmic short spike bursts, migrating long spike bursts, and nonmigrating long spike bursts. The meal significantly increased the number of migrating and nonmigrating long spike bursts (from 25 to 38.7 percent of the recording time; P <0.01). These bursts of potentials showed a peak 15 minutes after the meal, which may be caused by the gastrocolic reflex. Migrating long spike bursts started anywhere along the rectosigmoid and migrated from there aborad 82 percent of the time and orad or in both directions in 10 or 7 percent of the time, respectively. They originated pressure waves 99 percent of the time. Short spike bursts were more frequent before the meal (15.1 percent before and 9.6 percent after the meal), but the difference was not significant; they neither propagated nor initiated pressure waves detected by the miniballoon. CONCLUSIONS: Migrating long spike bursts were the only potentials that migrated, sometimes for short distances. Short spike bursts are a different phenomenon from the small-bowel migrating myoelectric complex because they do not migrate; they can occur during the postprandial period and never originated intraluminal pressure waves.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dr. José A. S. Medeiros M.D., Ph.D..

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Supported by a grant from the Instituto Nacional de Investigação Científica, Proc. DBI-22086.

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Medeiros, J.A.S., Pontes, F.A. & Mesquita, O.A.R.O. Is colonic electrical activity a similar phenomena to small-bowel electrical activity?. Dis Colon Rectum 40, 93–99 (1997).

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Key words

  • Smooth muscle
  • Electromyography
  • Intestinal motility
  • Motility
  • Electrophysiology