Inhibitory reflexive effect of rectal distension on postprandial gastric myoelectrical activity

Liwei Qian, William C. Orr, J. D.Z. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The aim of the study was to determine the effects of low-volume rectal distension on gastric myoelectrical activity. The study was performed in 14 healthy volunteers in 2 randomized sessions. In the control session, a small balloon was inserted into the rectum 10 cm beyond the anal verge and inflated with 20 ml of air. Gastric myoelectrical activity was recorded for 30 minutes in the fasting state and 30 minutes after a meal; and then the balloon was deflated and removed, and another 30-min recording was followed. The study session was the same except that after the 30-min baseline recording the balloon was inflated to reach a volume with which the subject felt an urgency for defecation. Spectral analyses were performed to compute the dominant frequency, power, and regularity (2-4 cycles/minutes, cpm) of the gastric slow waves and the percentage of gastric dysrhythmia. Results: 1). In comparison with our previously published data, the placement of the rectal balloon with a volume of 20 ml air did not affect the regularity of the slow waves (84.2 ± 3.6% in fasting, 85.3 ± 4.3% in fed); In comparison with the control session, the rectal distension inducing an urgency for defecation (average volume of air: 72.5 ml) significantly reduced the regularity of gastric slow waves in the fed state (72.0 ± 5.7%, P < 0.03 vs baseline; P < 0.02, vs control session) but not in the fasting state (80.1 ± 4.5%, P = 0.1). This postprandial change was attributed to a significant increase in bradygastria (3.1 ± 1.0% vs 7.9 ± 2.6%, P < 0.04) and a marginal increase in tachygastria (7.4 ± 2.5% vs 15.8 ± 4.3%, P = 0.06). The normal postprandial increases in the dominant frequency and power of the gastric slow wave were abolished in both sessions. conclusions, rectal distension evoking an urgency for defecation impairs postprandial gastric slow waves with an increase in the percentage of both bradygastria and tachygastria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2473-2479
Number of pages7
JournalDigestive diseases and sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Anorectal distension
  • Electrogastrography
  • Gastric dysrhythmia
  • Gastric myoelectrical activity
  • Rectogastric reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Gastroenterology


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