Similarities and differences in the propagation of slow waves and peristaltic waves

Wim J.E.P. Lammers, Betty Stephen, John R. Slack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The relationship between slow waves and peristaltic reflexes has not been well analyzed. In this study, we have recorded the electrical activity of slow waves together with that generated by spontaneous peristaltic contractions at 240 extracellular sites simultaneously. Recordings were made from five isolated tubular and six sheet segments of feline duodenum superfused in vitro. In all preparations, slow waves propagated as broad wave fronts along the longitudinal axis of the preparation in either the aborad or the orad direction. Electrical potentials recorded during peristalsis (peristaltic waves) also propagated as broad wave fronts in either directions. Peristaltic waves often spontaneously stopped conducting (46%), in contrast to slow waves that never did. Peristaltic waves propagated at a lower velocity than the slow waves (0.98 ± 0.25 and 1.29 ± 0.28 cm/s, respectively; P < 0.001; n = 24) and in a direction independent of the preceding slow wave direction (64% in the same direction, 46% in the opposite direction). In conclusion, slow waves and peristaltic waves in the isolated feline duodenum seem to constitute two separate electrical events that may drive two different mechanisms of contraction in the small intestine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G778-G786
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number3 46-3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Duodenum
  • Electrical mapping
  • Motility
  • Peristaltic reflex
  • Small intestine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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