The aim of this study is to assess the value of jejunal manometry in the diagnosis of subacute mechanical obstruction distal to the proximal small bowel. In a retrospective review of 850 manometric tracings carried out in patients with unexplained nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or altered bowel movements, 16 tracings were identified with features suggestive of mechanical obstruction: prolonged simultaneous contractions (PC) and postprandial clustered contractions (CC). Three patients had CC lasting less than 20 minutes: none proved to have mechanical obstruction. Among seven patients with CC lasting more than 30 minutes, three had proven mechanical obstruction, one probable adhesion obstruction, and in three no obstruction was found. All three patients with PC and three with mixed PC and CC had mechanical obstruction. The obstructed intestine manifests a variety of pressure profiles in the proximal jejunum: PC, CC, or mixed patterns. Prolonged simultaneous contractions are suggestive of distal subacute bowel obstruction; CC lasting over 30 minutes are less specific, whereas CC lasting less than 20 minutes are not associated with obstruction.
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