Background: Colonic functions (ie, absorption of fluids and electrolytes, digestion of selected nutrients, harbor for microbes, and elimination of excreta) necessitate complex patterns of storage and transit. Indeed, colonic transit accounts for a major part of the mouth-to-anus transit time. Colonic transit assessments are useful for understanding the pathophysiology of disease, the pharmacodynamic effects of new medications and to diagnose slow transit constipation. Currently, radiopaque markers, scintigraphy, and a colonic pH-pressure capsule are used to measure overall colonic transit. Radioopaque markers, scintigraphy, and the electromagnetic capsule, which is a newer technique, also evaluate regional colonic transit. The pH-pressure capsule also measures colonic pressures. Magnetic resonance imaging and a radio-frequency identification-based device are evolving methods for assessing colonic transit. Purpose: This mini-review, which accompanies a study evaluating the assessment of colon transit with the electromagnetic capsule, evaluates and compares existing and evolving methods for evaluating colonic transit in humans (Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2018; in press). In addition to overall and regional colonic transit, the electromagnetic capsule evaluates colonic motor patterns without radiation exposure. These patterns are summarized by analyzing the characteristics (ie, distance and velocity) of discrete antegrade and retrograde capsule movements as they travel in the colon. However, the electromagnetic capsule does not measure pressure or colonic wall movement (ie, contractions). The motor patterns identified by this capsule should be compared with motor patterns identified with manometry. The next challenge is to harness different techniques to evaluate the relationships between colonic pressures and transit or, even better, the trifecta of colonic contractions, pressure events, and transit.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems