• Joseph A. Murray


The gastrointestinal tract is an active conduit, not a passive tube. Movements of the muscle which lines this tube are not only responsible for the mechanical breakdown of food particles and the mixing of chyme with digestive enzymes but also for the transport of material. In addition, motility provides an important housekeeping function that occurs predominately at night and during fasting. Fasting motor activity clears the stomach and small intestine of undigested large particles, and prevents bacterial overgrowth. The colon, of course, has the important function of water absorption, storage, and elimination of stool. These complex motor events are controlled by an interplay of intrinsic and extrinsic nerves and hormones that act upon different hollow organs, each with its own distinct structure and function.’ Neural input can be divided into excitatory and inhibitory innervation. Although, one may presume that excitation would lead to propulsion and inhibition to stasis, this is not always true. There is a complex interaction between these two mechanisms that allows integrated function of the GI tract. Furthermore, the motor functions do not occur independent of the secretory and absorptive functions of the GI tract. For example, rapid transit can lessen the time for effective absorption to occur, thereby causing diarrhea. Thus, optimal gut function depends on a well-coordinated gastrointestinal motor activity.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome Gastric Emptying Enteric Nervous System Bacterial Overgrowth Prokinetic Agent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph A. Murray
    • 1
  1. 1.Mayo Medical SchoolRochesterUSA

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