The mean distance of travel and hourly incidence of propulsive and retropulsive movements of colonic contents have been assessed by means of time-lapse cinefluorography and compared in 98 patients with the irritable colon syndrome and in 90 control subjects.
Net propulsion in patients with the irritable colon syndrome was less than in the controls at rest, similar to the controls after feeding, and greater than in the controls after an injection of carbachol.
In both clinical groups, food and carbachol increased the incidence of propulsive and retropulsive movements but did not alter the average distance over which they travelled.
The figures suggest that at least two-thirds of all net propulsion of colonic contents in the irritable colon syndrome takes place under circumstances not reproduced in the present study.
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