Motility and tone of the left colon in constipation: A role in clinical practice?

Michael D. O'Brien, Michael Camilleri, Manfred R. Von Der Ohe, Sidney F. Phillips, John H. Pemberton, Charlene M. Prather, Julie A. Wiste, Russell B. Hanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Objectives: Colonic motor mechanisms deranged in constipation are not understood completely. Our aim was to measure left colonic motility and tone, during fasting and postprandially in patients with chronic constipation. Methods: During 1 h fasting and 2 h postprandially, we measured pressures (multilumen manometry) and tone (barostat) in the left colon of 15 healthy controls and 40 patients with chronic constipation associated with slow (n = 15) or normal colonic transit (n = 12) or outlet obstruction (n = 13). Results: Fasting tone was similar in all groups, and all demonstrated a significant increase in motor activity to food. There was lower postprandial tone (p < 0.05) in the slow transit and outlet obstruction groups. There were no differences in the timing of the tonic response or the number or amplitude of high-pressure propagated contractions. The slow transit group had lower postprandial phasic responses in the rectosigmoid (p < 0.05) and descending (p < 0.1) colon; the outlet obstruction group had lesser descending (p < 0.05) and rectosigmoid (p < 0.1) colon phasic motility. Conclusions: Colonic intraluminal measurements alone do not discriminate subgroups of chronic constipation more accurately than transit and pelvic floor tests, and currently have a limited role in clinical practice. However, manometry and tone measurements may be helpful in confirming a diagnosis of slow transit constipation (colonic inertia) in patients considered candidates for surgical treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2532-2538
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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