Role of visceral sensitivity in the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome
- Correspondence to:
Dr M Delvaux, Gastroenterology Unit, CHU Rangueil, F-31403 Toulouse Cedex 04, France;
Visceral hypersensitivity has been recognised as a characteristic of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It may be involved in the pathogenesis of abdominal pain/discomfort, and seems to result from the sensitisation of nerve afferent pathways originating from the gastrointestinal tract. From a clinical point of view, hypersensitivity, although frequent, is not a constant finding among patients with IBS and cannot therefore be considered as a diagnostic marker of the condition. The advances made in understanding visceral hypersensitivity in patients with IBS are reviewed: the factors that influence abdominal distension are defined and different therapeutic perspectives are examined.