Physiology of the small bowel: a new approach using MRI and proposal for a new metric of function

Andoni P Toms, Aser Farghal, Bahman Kasmai, Anthony Bagnall, Paul N Malcolm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The mechanics of small bowel motility are extremely complex. Routine clinical access to small bowel has been restricted to radiological enteric contrast studies which have not contributed significantly to the understanding of small bowel physiology. Small bowel mechanics are understood within a framework of individual visible or measurable elements such as peristaltic wave formation, intra-luminal pressure gradients and transit times. There are no global measures of small bowel function that can be readily obtained in vivo in humans. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is playing an increasingly important role in radiological diagnosis of small bowel disease and dynamic MRI offers the possibility of capturing small bowel movement in three-dimensional cinematic datasets. The metrics that are used to describe small bowel mechanics, typically anatomical measures in isolated segments, are not suited to analysing these large dynamic datasets. The proposal in this paper is to leave behind all previously described anatomical metrics and to describe anew the mechanics of small bowel movement in mathematical terms derived from changes in pixel intensity within dynamic MRI datasets so that global small bowel activity might be summarised in a single novel metric.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)834-9
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


  • Gastrointestinal Motility
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging

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