Peristalsis

Peristaltis is one of several types of patterns of movement associated with the gastrointestinal tract. It can be described as a moving, coordinated wave of muscular contraction that is propulsive in nature, forcing the contents of the digestive tract ahead of it. Peristalsis occurs most frequently in the esophagus, where it is stimulated by a swallow (primary peristalsis) and moves the entire length of the esophagus to the stomach.

A peristalsis wave may also occur in the absence of a swallow (secondary peristalsis). A secondary peristalsis is elicited when the esophagus is distended - if the primary wave fails to clear the esophagus of food, or if gastric contents reflux into the esophagus. Peristaltic waves also occur in the small intestine but rarely travel more than 4 cm (1.6 in). In the large intestine peristalsis is responsible for the two or three mass movements that occur daily. Peristalsis is controlled largely by central and local serves.

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