High-resolution anatomic correlation of cyclic motor patterns in the human colon: Evidence of a rectosigmoid brake

Anthony Y. Lin, Peng Du, Philip G. Dinning, John W. Arkwright, Jozef P. Kamp, Leo K. Cheng, Ian P. Bissett, Gregory O’Grady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Colonic cyclic motor patterns (CMPs) have been hypothesized to act as a brake to limit rectal filling. However, the spatiotemporal profile of CMPs, including anatomic origins and distributions, remains unclear. This study characterized colonic CMPs using high-resolution (HR) manometry (72 sensors, 1-cm resolution) and their relationship with proximal antegrade propagating events. Nine healthy volunteers were recruited. Recordings were performed over 4 h, with a 700-kcal meal given after 2 h. Propagating events were visually identified and analyzed by pattern, origin, amplitude, extent of propagation, velocity, and duration. Manometric data were normalized using anatomic landmarks identified on abdominal radiographs. These were mapped over a three-dimensional anatomic model. CMPs comprised a majority of detected propagating events. Most occurred postprandially and were retrograde propagating events (84.9 ± 26.0 retrograde vs. 14.3 ± 11.8 antegrade events/2 h, P = 0.004). The dominant sites of initiation for retrograde CMPs were in the rectosigmoid region, with patterns proximally propagating by a mean distance of 12.4 ± 0.3 cm. There were significant differences in the characteristics of CMPs depending on the direction of travel and site of initiation. Association analysis showed that proximal antegrade propagating events occurred independently of CMPs. This study accurately characterized CMPs with anatomic correlation. CMPs were unlikely to be triggered by proximal antegrade propagating events in our study context. However, the distal origin and prominence of retrograde CMPs could still act as a mechanism to limit rectal filling and support the theory of a “rectosigmoid brake.” NEW & NOTEWORTHY Retrograde cyclic motor patterns (CMPs) are the dominant motor patterns in a healthy prepared human colon. The major sites of initiation are in the rectosigmoid region, with retrograde propagation, supporting the idea of a “rectosigmoid brake.” A significant increase in the number of CMPs is seen after a meal. In our study context, the majority of CMPs occurred independent of proximal propagating events, suggesting that CMPs are primarily controlled by external innervation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G508-G515
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2017


  • colonic motility
  • high-resolution manometry
  • rectosigmoid brake


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