Research Article

Oesophageal motility in the irritable bowel syndrome.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 282 doi: (Published 04 April 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:1101
  1. P J Whorwell,
  2. C Clouter,
  3. C L Smith


    Oesophageal motility was assessed in 30 patients with the irritable bowel syndrome and controls matched for age and sex. Lower oesophageal sphincter pressure was significantly lower in the patients than their controls (mean pressures 13.8 and 23.8 cm H2O respectively), and the same degree of difference between patients and controls was maintained in all age groups. In addition, spontaneous activity, repetitive contractions, and the presence of variable-amplitude and simultaneous waves were significantly more common in the patients, who were also more likely to have more than one abnormal pattern of motility. There was no difference in upper oesophageal sphincter pressure between the two groups. These findings may help to explain why patients with the irritable bowel syndrome may complain of upper gastrointestinal symptoms, including heartburn and dysphagia. The results suggest that the syndrome may be a more widespread disorder of smooth muscle, or its innervation, than was previously thought.