Viscoelastic properties of the human colon

Adil E. Bharucha, Rolf D. Hubmayr, Irene J. Ferber, Alan R. Zinsmeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Our objectives were to characterize colonic viscoelastic properties of the human descending colon by assessing pressure-volume (P-V) relationships during barostatic balloon distension. In 16 healthy subjects, a balloon was inflated to 44 mmHg and then deflated to 0 mmHg in 4-mmHg steps at 10, 30, and 60 ml/min, allowing volume fluctuations to stabilize at each pressure increment. Thereafter, these "quasi-static" P-V curves were compared with "dynamic" distensions to 300 ml, at 1 and 10 ml/s, before and after intravenous atropine in another five subjects. During quasi-static curves, balloon volume stabilized at each pressure increment. Quasi-static P-V curves were reproducible within individuals and approximated to a power exponential function and revealed hysteresis, indicative of viscoelasticity. Body mass index influenced quasi-static P-V curves during inflation but not during deflation. The colon was less compliant during dynamic distensions at 10 ml/s than during quasistatic distensions. Atropine increased quasi-static compliance and attenuated differences between quasi-static and rapid distensions. We conclude that colonic viscoelastic properties can be assessed by quasi-static P-V curves. Rapid colonic distension activated neural reflexes, thereby reducing colonic compliance compared with quasi-static distensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G459-G466
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number2 44-2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Atropine
  • Body mass index
  • Compliance
  • Hysteresis
  • Pressure-volume relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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