Electrogastrography, Near-infrared Spectroscopy, and Acoustics to Measure Gastrointestinal Development in Preterm Babies

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The aim of the study was to obtain objective measures indicative of gastrointestinal maturity using 3 noninvasive technologies.


Electrogastrography (EGG), abdominal near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), and bowel sound/acoustics (AC) monitoring were used simultaneously to obtain physiologic measures of the gastrointestinal system of 18 preterm and 5 term neonates who were tolerating enteral feedings. Measures of EGG slow wave voltage (EGG dominant power) and AC signal amplitude (AC dominant power) were obtained after spectral density analysis. Mean abdominal regional saturations (A-rSO2) were obtained directly from NIRS. The relationship of these 3 measures with postmenstrual age (PMA) was assessed.


The results of the 3 methods differed depending on whether the measurements were pre- or postprandial. Postprandial EGG dominant power increases with PMA (r = 0.67, P = 0.003), both pre- and postprandial abdominal NIRS mean regional saturation increase with PMA (r = 0.73, P < 0.001 and r = 0.55, P = 0.009), and postprandial AC dominant power (at 300–500 Hz) increases with PMA (r = −0.48, P = 0.025).


EGG, abdominal NIRS, and AC, whenever used simultaneously, can provide objective and synergistic measures that correlate with PMA. These findings may be helpful in the assessment of feeding readiness because they reveal quantitative measures suggestive of the developmental process of the gut.

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