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American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Year: 2009  |  Volume: 296  |  Issue: 6  |  Page No.: 1344 - 1349

Colorectal responses to distension and feeding in patients with spinal cord injury

V. P Suttor, C Ng, S Rutkowski, R. D Hansen, J. E Kellow and A. Malcolm    

Abstract:

The role of the central nervous system in enteroenteric motor reflexes remains controversial. Our aims were as follows: 1) to evaluate colorectal, rectocolic, gastrocolonic, and gastrorectal reflex responses in patients with cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) and 2) to compare these responses with those in healthy subjects. In six patients with SCI (5 male, 42 ± 4 yr) and six healthy control subjects (5 male, 36 ± 5 yr), 2-min phasic distensions were performed randomly via dual-barostat balloons in the colon and rectum. Continuous colonic and rectal balloon volumes were recorded during distensions and after a 1,000-kcal liquid meal. Mean balloon volumes were recorded before, during, and after phasic distensions and over 60 min postprandially. The colorectal response was similar in control subjects and SCI patients (rectal volume reduction = 28 ± 11% and 15 ± 5% in SCI patients and healthy subjects, respectively); the rectocolic response was variable. The gastrocolonic response was present in all subjects (colonic volume reduction = 49 ± 4% and 44 ± 3% in SCI patients and healthy subjects, respectively), with a time effect in the first 30 min (P < 0.0001) and a group effect in the second 30 min (P < 0.004). The gastrorectal response was present in four SCI patients and five healthy subjects (rectal volume reduction = 38 ± 4% and 41 ± 3% in SCI patients and healthy subjects, respectively), with a time effect in the first 30 min (P < 0.0001) but no group effect in the second 30 min. Intact neural transmission between the spinal cord and higher centers is not essential for normal colorectal motor responses to feeding and distension; however, a degree of central nervous system and neurohormonal modulation of these responses is likely.

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