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Oesophageal motor changes in diabetes mellitus.
  1. I M Stewart,
  2. D J Hosking,
  3. B J Preston,
  4. M Atkinson


    Radiography and manometry have been used to study oesophageal motor function in a group of 31 diabetics, 23 of whom had alimentary or genitourinary symptoms attributed to autonomic neuropathy. Peristalsis was of diminished amplitude and oesophageal emptying in the 15 degrees Trendelen-Peristalsis was of diminished amplitude and oesophageal emptying in the 15 degrees Trendelenburg position was delayed. The lower oesophageal sphincter pressure was reduced. The changes seldom caused symptoms and they were not confined to those diabetics with alimentary or genitourinary symptoms attributable to autonomic neuropathy. They suggest that autonomic neuropathy in diabetes is widespread and often subclinical. Degeneration of the ganglion cells of the oesophageal myenteric plexus is associated with hypersensitivity of the oesophageal smooth muscle to cholinergic agents. Bethanecol, a cholinergic drug with muscarinic actions, accelerated oesophageal emptying and increased the lower oesophageal sphincter pressure to normal levels in our diabetics but the hypersensitivity to this drug found in the presence of ganglion cell degeneration was not seen. This implies that in diabetic autonomic neuropathy the predominant lesion is in the preganglionic fibres of the vagus rather than in the myenteric plexus of the oesophageal wall.

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