Gastrointestinal motility testing--a personal perspective.
The role of motility tests in the evaluation of some common disorders in which motility has been assumed to play a role is reviewed. Three separate areas, non-cardiac chest pain, constipation and the irritable bowel syndrome are discussed. In each area, considerable difficulty in the clinical definition of these disorders persists and presents a major obstacle to the evaluation of diagnostic tests. With regard to non-cardiac chest pain, it is apparent that gastro-oesophageal reflux and sensory/perception abnormalities, rather than dysmotility, are the predominant factors, and investigations should take account of this. While studies of colonic and small intestinal motility have demonstrated various abnormal patterns in patients described as suffering from the irritable bowel syndrome, the specificity of any of these motor 'abnormalities' remains uncertain, and manometry cannot be recommended as a diagnostic tool in this context. Considerable advances have been made in our understanding of gut motor physiology and in our ability to accurately record motor function in man, the basic pathophysiology of many 'functional' gut syndromes remains unclear, and the role of dysmotility, in particular, poorly defined.