Neurogastroenterology and Motility Disorders
What is a Motility Disorder?

What is a Motility Disorder?

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

Questions / Answers

Tests are usually performed based on the symptom and the segment of the gut affected. There are a host of tests that can be performed to diagnose motility disorders. These include pH-impedance monitoring, manometry, transit studies, gastric emptying scan, contrast radiologic studies etc.

One has to first diagnose a motility disorder and its type and then get an assessment of its severity. Depending on the type and severity, some of these disorders can be treated while others can be managed symptomatically. A minority of the more severe ones, however, can progress and worsen over time while others may need surgical intervention.

After we have reviewed all the past records and tests results, we come up with a tentative plan for a thorough evaluation of your child’s condition. This includes clinic visits, outpatient tests and often a brief hospitalization for performing specialized testing. Once the diagnostic evaluation is completed and all test results available, we typically communicate with the referring doctor and the parent to give them our impressions and recommendations. 

Patients and Families

Learn more about some of the tests that we perform, including esophageal manometry, antro-duodenal manometry and colonic manometry. Read More