Some patients with an ileoanal reservoir have a high defecation frequency, despite a good anatomical result and the absence of pouchitis. This study aimed to determine whether variation in function is related to a difference in small bowel motility proximal to the reservoir and if small bowel motility is propagated into the reservoir. Ambulatory small bowel and reservoir motility was studied for 24 hours in five patients with good function (median bowel frequency 4 per day, range 3-6) and seven subjects with poor function (median bowel frequency 12 per day, range 10-20). Five solid state pressure sensors were positioned in the small bowel and one in the reservoir. During the fasting nocturnal period (2300-0800 h), patients with poor function had a median of 10 (range 5-13) migrating motor complexes (MMC), significantly greater (p = 0.03) than the corresponding median number of 3 (range 2-7) in patients with good function. A total of 120 MMCs were observed in the whole series of 12 patients. Of these only two were propagated from the small bowel into the reservoir. Discrete clustered contractions were not propagated into the reservoir, although prolonged propagated contractions did pass into the reservoir in one patient. Patients with poor function had similar 24 hour stool output and radiological reservoir size to those with good function, but the median maximum tolerated volume on reservoir distension was 290 ml (range 160-450) for patients with poor function compared with 475 ml (range 460-550) for patients with good function (p = 0.005). Small bowel motility proximal to the reservoir bears an important relationship to pouch function and defecation frequency. Propagation of coordinated proximal small intestinal motility into the reservoir is rare.
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