Disorders of small intestinal motility and transit are becoming increasingly recognized partly as a result of a greater awareness of their existence and partly because suitable diagnostic methods are more widely available. Usually, the neuropathic and myopathic forms can be separated, and gut disease secondary to a generalized neuromuscular disorder can be identified by the clinician. The availability of better non-invasive methods for the diagnosis of disorders of motility and transit would greatly facilitate their management. Treatment must include the restoration and maintenance of nutrition, attempts to improve intestinal motor function and resection of any segments of localized disease. Regrettably, all such measures are ineffective in the severest cases. In the future, a greater understanding of the enteric neural control of the smooth muscle and an ability to manipulate it with novel, specific drugs or peptidergic receptor agonists and antagonists, or electrical pacing, may lead to more effective therapies.
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