Colonic myoelectrical activity was recorded during 24 hours in 23 patients with painless diarrhoea and compared with a control group of 10 healthy subjects without digestive functional disorders. Diurnal fasting activity showed no significant difference in the total long spike bursts activity (LSB lasting greater than 7 seconds), but short spike bursts activity (SSB, lasting less than 7 seconds) was significantly lower (p less than 0.05) in diarrhoeal patients. A striking difference was observed in colonic response to eating, with an increased number of migrating long spike bursts (MLSB: mass movements) during the first postprandial hour in diarrhoeal patients (p less than 0.001), while short spike bursts (segmental activity) were almost absent in the rectosigmoid area. A marked decrease in the retrograde LSB activity was also observed in eight patients. During the night (from 2200 h to 0600 h) the number of migrating long spike bursts was increased in the diarrhoea group, but almost absent in controls (p less than 0.001). This study shows that colonic motor activity was altered in painless diarrhoea. These disturbances were not limited to the decreased SSB activity in the sigmoid, but involved the whole colon, with lower SSB activity and abnormal increase of migrating long spike bursts activity (MLSB) in postprandial and nocturnal periods.
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