Which GI motility abnormalities are associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Updated: Dec 30, 2019
  • Author: Mohammad F El-Baba, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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Studies evaluating the motor response of the colon to meals, pain, and stress suggest a difference between control subjects and patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Pretreatment with anticholinergic medication in irritable bowel syndrome was demonstrated to reduce meal-stimulated pain and diarrhea. The finding of an abnormal, 3-cycle-per-minute, slow-wave activity in the colon of patients with irritable bowel syndrome was not confirmed by other studies and was noted in some individuals without irritable bowel syndrome.

Abnormal small-bowel motility has also been reported by some investigators. Intestinal transit has been demonstrated to be delayed in patients with constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. In contrast, the transit was accelerated in patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. Clustered contractions in the duodenum and jejunum and prolonged propagated contractions in the ileum were noted more frequently in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Small-bowel motility studies have demonstrated more abnormal findings in patients with irritable bowel syndrome in conscious states than during sleep, suggesting that the condition may result in part from CNS input.

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