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Updated: 12/22/2020

Large Intestinal Motility

Review Topic
  • Overview
    • Large intestinal motility
      • functions
        • fecal material moves from cecum through colon, to rectum, and to anal canal
          • colon includes ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid colons
        • fecal material is destined for excretion
      • segmentation contractions
        • mix intestinal contents of large intestine
        • occur in cecum and proximal colon
        • contractions are associated with characteristic sac-like segments called haustra in large intestine
      • mass movements
        • move intestinal contents of large intestine over long distances 1-3 times per day
        • propel fecal material into rectum
          • fecal material in distal colon is semi-solid and moves slowly
            • a consequence of colonic water absorption occurring in distal colon
      • defecation
        • rectosphincteric reflex
          • as rectum fills with fecal material, smooth muscle wall of rectum contracts and internal anal sphincter relaxes
            • defecation does not occur
              • external anal sphincter, composed of striated muscle, is under voluntary control
                • external anal sphincter is tonically contracted
          • once rectum fills to 25% capacity, there is an urge to defecate
            • when convenient to defecate, external anal sphincter is relaxed voluntarily
            • smooth muscle wall of rectum contracts and generates sufficient pressure
              • fecal material is forced out through anal canal
        • gastrocolic reflex
          • distension of stomach by food → ↑ motility of colon → ↑ frequency of mass movements in large intestine

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