The somatostatin analogue, octreotide, restores normal pressure profiles in disorders of upper gut motility. This study aimed to evaluate the acute effects of octreotide in five healthy subjects and in 50 consecutive patients with functional (n = 22) or organic (n = 28) dysmotility. Antroduodenojejunal manometry was performed during three hours' fasting, for two hours after a standard meal, and 30 minutes after subcutaneous injection of 50 micrograms octreotide. Antral motility, before and after octreotide, and characteristics of spontaneous migrating motor complexes and octreotide induced activity fronts were compared. Octreotide inhibited antral motility and induced a small intestinal activity front followed by motor quiescence in all healthy subjects and patients. The duration and propagation velocity of activity fronts were greater than those of spontaneous migrating motor complexes. Thirty per cent of activity fronts began simultaneously at different levels of small bowel, and in 20%, a second, normally propagated activity front developed within 30 minutes of octreotide injection. Octreotide induces rapidly propagated, long activity fronts, even in patients with neuropathology, and this may initially facilitate the intestinal propulsion of chyme. Propulsion may not occur, however, if octreotide induces simultaneous activity fronts or if the activity front is followed by prolonged quiescence. Inhibition of antral motility suggests that octreotide may not be effective in gastroparesis.
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