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GI Motility Disorders

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Motility disorders refer to those health problems that arise from abnormal muscular contractions in the gastrointestinal system. The gut loses its ability to coordinate muscular activity due to which a wide range of complications arise in the four regions of the gastrointestinal tract- viz, the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and the colon.

These four regions undergo different symptoms of motility and we have broadly classified them in the following content:

Classification of GI motility disorders based on location (organ)

Esophageal Motility Disorders

The esophagus carries food to the stomach and motility in the esophagus can be caused due to nerve degeneration in the passage or problem in the LES. The common motility disorders of the esophagus are:

Stomach Motility Disorders

Stomach motility leads to severe cramping in intestine and bowel obstruction. Pain, bloating and diarrhea can also result from bacterial invasion of the upper small intestine and alteration in food transit into the digestive tract. Stomach motility disorders are of the following types:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal fullness
  • Abdominal distension
  • Gas
  • Vomiting
  • Gastroparesis-Delayed Gastric Emptying
  • Functional Dyspepsia

Intestinal Motility Disorders

Diagnosis of GI Motility

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Several Manometry tests are conducted to diagnose the severity of the motility disorders. We list some of them below:

1.Esophageal Manometry

An esophageal manometry is done to test contractions and coordination of the muscles in the esophagus, to check for peristaltic dysfunction, movement of bolus, etc. with the help of a high resolution manometric system. 

The common tests include:

  • Pharyngeal Manometry
  • Upper Esophageal Sphincter (UES) Manometry
  • Esophageal Body Manometry
  • Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) Manometry

2.Stomach Manometry

It mainly involves studying the gastric processes, like flow of meals into small intestine, which is scientifically described as gastric emptying (meals and liquid foods) into the small intestine as a result of contraction of the stomach muscles. One such diagnostic technique is electrogastrogram (EGG). Dysrhythmias and its symptoms get easily diagnosed with this tool.

3.Intestinal Manometry

This test primarily uses Antroduodenal Manometry as the tool to fetch information regarding the functionality of the muscles in the stomach and the small intestine. Another technique used to detect intestinal motility is- lactulose breath test which finds out bacterial overgrowth in the intestine.

Treatments of GI Motility Disorders

Treatment can be done in several ways:

Drugs or Pharmacotherapy: It starts with avoiding intake of those drugs that trigger motility disorders. Some drugs used for treatment are prokinetic agents, antidiarrheals, parasympathomimetics, opioid antagonists, and antibiotics.

Pneumatic Dilation: It’s a treatment that regulates the activity of LES for proper movement of food into the stomach

Botox Injection: It’s given in the pyloric sphincter for modulating proper gastric emptying.

Operations and Surgery: ostomy, bowel resection and endoscopy techniques like endoscopic gastroplication and laparoscopic fundoplication.

GI motility disorders are absolutely treatable and chances of occurrence get reduced drastically with certain change in food habits (avoid eating acid and gas causing foods) and incorporating multi-vitamins in diet in the form of liquid.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 06, 2015