A new technique for manovolumetric investigation of rectoanal function allowing for simultaneous recording of rectal volume, anal pressure and external sphincter EMG in response to graded rectal distension was developed. Distension pressure was generated by a water column between two reservoirs. Volume was recorded as shifts of water between the reservoirs. Anal pressure was recorded with a cylindrical balloon and electromyographic activity of the external sphincter by means of a needle electrode. It could be shown that although reduction of preset pressure was minimal, this factor had to be taken into account when rectal compliance is high. The position of the patients during the investigation has to be defined, because rectal volume changed with body position. Pull through studies of anal pressure indicated low sensitivity to displacement of the cylindrical anal probe. A pressure adaptation to the anal probe during eight minutes was noted. Representative recordings of the anorectal response to different isobaric pressures are presented. The present system offers new possibilities for investigation of rectoanal physiology in man.
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