Analysis of Intestinal Movements with Spatiotemporal Maps: Beyond Anatomy and Physiology

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Over 150 years ago, methods for quantitative analysis of gastrointestinal motor patterns first appeared. Graphic representations of physiological variables were recorded with the kymograph after the mid-1800s. Changes in force or length of intestinal muscles could be quantified, however most recordings were limited to a single point along the digestive tract.In parallel, photography and cinematography with X-Rays visualised changes in intestinal shape, but were hard to quantify. More recently, the ability to record physiological events at many sites along the gut in combination with computer processing allowed construction of spatiotemporal maps. These included diameter maps (DMaps), constructed from video recordings of intestinal movements and pressure maps (PMaps), constructed using data from high-resolution manometry catheters. Combining different kinds of spatiotemporal maps revealed additional details about gut wall status, including compliance, which relates forces to changes in length. Plotting compliance values along the intestine enabled combined DPMaps to be constructed, which can distinguish active contractions and relaxations from passive changes. From combinations of spatiotemporal maps, it is possible to deduce the role of enteric circuits and pacemaker cells in the generation of complex motor patterns. Development and application of spatiotemporal methods to normal and abnormal motor patterns in animals and humans is ongoing, with further technical improvements arising from their combination with impedance manometry, magnetic resonance imaging, electrophysiology, and ultrasonography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-294
Number of pages24
JournalAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventFNM 2020: 4th Meeting of the Federation of Neurogastroenterology & Motility - Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 14 Apr 202117 Apr 2021


  • Calcium imaging
  • Cinefluoroscopy
  • Cineradiography
  • Gut motility
  • Intraluminal flow
  • Manometry
  • Mechanical recording
  • Myoelectrical activity
  • Physiological traces
  • Propulsion
  • Transit times


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