Gastric motor and sensory function

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Purpose of review

Abnormalities of gastric sensory and motor function are considered key players in the pathogenesis of upper gastrointestinal symptoms in functional dyspepsia and in gastroparesis. This review summarizes recent progress in our understanding of gastric sensory and motor function in health and in disease.

Recent findings

Although assessment of gastric emptying rate is often used in the clinical work-up of patients with functional dyspepsia or gastroparesis, the correlation with symptoms is generally poor. Central processing, related to psychosocial dysfunction, is increasingly implicated in the pathogensis of gastric hypersensitivity. Meal challenge test and in fact even simple ingestion of a meal induce increased symptom occurrence in functional dyspepsia. Impaired motor function in critically ill patients is increasingly being studied and recognized as a prognostically relevant factor. Studies have reported on pharmacological approaches as well as electrical stimulation in the treatment of gastric sensorimotor dysfunction.


Progress in our understanding of the normal and abnormal gastric sensory and motor function may lead to new or improved treatment modalities. Areas of recent advances are the role of the central nervous system in visceral hypersensitivity, motor abnormalities of the stomach in critically ill patients and the exploration of novel pharmacotherapeutic approaches.

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