The motor function of the colon is probably the least understood of the various hollow viscera of the human body. This is partly because of the marked variability of colonic motor function and the short recording periods usually used, generally not exceeding three hours. Most of the data available on human colonic motility originate from investigations conducted in the most distal portions of the viscus, because of technical difficulties in reaching its proximal portions. Although attempts have been made to solve these problems through the ingestion of radiotelemetric pressure sensors, these efforts have been hampered by intermittent signal loss and the inability to control the location of the capsule within the gastrointestinal tract. To overcome these problems, techniques have recently been developed that permit prolonged recordings (24 hours or more) of myoelectrical and contractile activity of the human colon, with both perfused and solid-state manometric systems. The present paper reviews the current experience in 24 hour recording from the human colon, with a primary emphasis on the more forceful propulsive contractile activity associated with the so called mass movements.
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