Normal contractions of the gut (called peristalsis) move food down the intestinal tract from the oral cavity to the rectum and facilitate absorption of nutrients. These peristaltic contractions occur when the muscle layers of the gut and the nerves embedded in them work together in a synchronized manner. Any abnormality in the gut muscle and/or nerves, whether from birth or acquired, can disrupt the normal contractions and produce symptoms. These could include difficulty swallowing, choking, gagging, aspirating, vomiting, regurgitation, chest pain, abdominal pain or distension, constipation, diarrhea, incontinence or soiling, and weight loss. Motility disorders of the gut can occur in association with abnormalities in other organ systems such as the central nervous system, mitochondrial disorders, muscular dystrophies and others.

What are some motility disorders?

  • Achalasia
  • Gastroparesis
  • Intestinal pseudo-obstruction
  • Constipation and encopresis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Hirschsprung’s Disease