Study of the Mechanism of Rectal Motility: The 'Mass Squeeze Contraction
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The motor physiology of the rectum has remained largely obscure, especially concerning the mechanism of rectal motility. In the current communication we tested the possibility of characterizing the mechanism of rectal motility during filling and evacuation through the study of the rectal electric activity in 16 healthy volunteers (mean age 43.6 ± 10.8 years; II men). Two monopolar silver-silver chloride electrodes were introduced per anum and fixed to the rectal mucosa by suction. The rectum was distended in 10 ml increments of water by means of a balloon-ended catheter inserted into the rectum. The rectal pressure was measured by one catheter placed above and a second one below the rectal balloon, and the 2 catheters were connected to 2 strain gauge pressure transducers. Regular triphasic slow waves or pacesetter potentials (PPs) were recorded from the 2 electrodes at rest. PPs were superimposed or followed randomly by action potentials (APs). AN but not PPs were coupled with elevated rectal pressure. Rectal distension with 10 ml of water caused no significant changes of the rectal pressure or EMG activity. Distension with a mean volume of 27.3 ± 4.7 ml effected a significant increase (p < 0.05) of the rectal electromechanical activity proximally to the balloon and a decrease distally (p < 0.05) to it. With progressive increase of the rectal dise tension, the electromechanical activity continued to increase (proximally and to decrease distally to the balloon, until, at a mean distending volume of 76.3 ± 3.7 ml, the balloon was 'dispelled to the exterior. In conclusion, the identification of the modality of rectal motility during defecation was feasible by recording the rectal electromechanical activity. The rectal contraction is suggested to occur in a 'mass squeeze manner' which squeezes the rectal contents aborally into the anal canal. The recognition of the rectal motor modality appears to be important for the understanding of rectal motility disorders. However, further studies are required to confirm these findings.