The ability of transcutaneous recordings of gastric electrical activity to detect gastric electrical abnormalities was determined by simultaneous measurements of gastric electrical activity with surgically implanted serosal electrodes and cutaneous electrodes in six patients undergoing abdominal operations. Transient abnormalities in gastric electrical activity were seen in five of the six patients during the postoperative period. Recognition of normal gastric electrical activity by visual analysis was possible 67% of the time and with computer analysis 95% of the time. Ninety four per cent of abnormalities in frequency were detected by visual analysis and 93.7% by computer analysis. Abnormalities involving a loss of coupling, however, were not recognised by transcutaneous recordings. Transcutaneous recordings of gastric electrical activity assessed by computer analysis can usually recognise normal gastric electrical activity and tachygastria. Current techniques, however, are unable to detect abnormalities in electrical coupling.
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