Gastrointestinal (GI) Motility Disorder

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What is a gastrointestinal motility disorder?

GI motility disorders are digestive problems that result when the nerves or muscles of the gut do not work in a coordinated way. A child may experience problems in any area of the digestive tract, resulting in weak, spastic or failed propulsion of the food through the digest system.

There are many types of digestive motility disorders. Some only affect one portion of the digestive tract; others involve or progress to multiple areas within the digestive tract.

In certain instances, motility disorders may affect the urinary system.

What are the symptoms of GI motility disorders?

Symptoms depend on which area of the digestive tract that is involved, and may include:

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Reflux (or back up of food in the throat)
  • Burping
  • Regurgitation
  • A feeling of early fullness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation, diarrhea, excessive gas

How is a gastrointestinal motility disorder diagnosed?

Our pediatric gastroenterologists will obtain a thorough history and perform a complete physical examination. Depending on the complaint, your child may undergo blood work, x-ray and further advanced diagnostic testing including:

  • Gastric emptying scan to assess emptying time of the stomach
  • Esophageal manometry to track the function of the esophagus (food pipe)
  • Impedance-pH study to detects presence of reflux with symptom correlation
  • Anorectal manometry to explore the function of the rectum and anus
  • Sitzmarks capsule to assess colonic transit time

How are gastrointestinal motility disorders treated?

Specialists in our Pediatric Gastrointestinal Motility Center provide comprehensive care for your child. Our team of pediatric gastroenterologists, surgeons, rehabilitation physicians, child life specialists, psychiatrist and dieticians work together to ensure best possible outcome.

Our treatments may include:

  • Management with medication
  • Nutritional rehabilitation
  • Therapeutic endoscopy, an injection of botulin toxin (Botox) into the GI sphincters, to provide symptomatic relief and improve your child’s quality of life.