Despite its size and physiological importance, the human colon is one of the least understood organs of the body. Many disorders arise from suspected abnormalities in colonic contractions, yet, due largely to technical constraints, investigation of human colonic motor function still remains relatively primitive. Most measures of colonic motility focus upon the transit speed (radiology, scintigraphy and, more recently, "smart pills"); however, only colonic manometry can measure pressure/force from multiple regions within the colon in real time (Dinning and Scott (Curr Opin Pharmacol 11:624-629, 2011)). Based upon data from colonic manometry studies, a number of different colonic motor patterns have been distinguished: (1) antegrade high amplitude propagating sequences (contractions), (2) low amplitude propagating sequences, (3) non-propagating contractions, and (4) and rarely episodes of retrograde (oral) propagating pressure waves (Dining and Di Lorenzo (Best Pract Res Clin Gastrolenterol 25(1): 89-101, 2011)). Abnormalities in the characteristics of these motor patterns should help to characterize dysmotility in a patient populations, and in both adults and children colonic motor abnormalities have been identified with manometry studies (Rao et al. Am J Gastroenterol 99(12):2405-2416, (2004), Di Lorenzo et al. Gut. 34(1): 803-807, (1993)). Yet, despite more than two decades of such studies, the clinical utility of colonic manometry remains marginal with no specific manometric biomarkers of colonic dysfunction being established ([Camilleri et al. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 20(12): 1269-1282, 2008). This has been highlighted recently in a colonic manometry study by Singh et al. (2013), in which 41 % of 80 patients, with confirmed slow transit constipation, were reported to have normal motility. While this may suggest that no motor abnormalities exist in a proportion of such patients, the finding may also reflect technical constraints in our ability to detail colonic motility patterns.
- Clinical utility
- High resolution colonic manometry