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Electric activity of the gut in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease: electromyography as a tool for differentiating between the two conditions in the early stage

Ahmed Shafik, Ismail Ahmed, Ali A. Shafik, Olfat El-Sibai

Med Sci Monit 2004; 10(10): CR572-576

ID: 11775

Background:The clinical diagnosis of ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD) may overlap and a diagnosis of intermediate colitis is made. We investigated the hypothesis that a difference in the electric pattern of the gut exists between UC and CD which may assist in the differentiation between the 2 conditions in the early stage.Material/Methods: The study comprised 16 patients with CD, 18 with UC, and 10 control subjects. It was performed during a scheduled laparotomy. The electric activity was recorded using 3 monopolar electrodes applied to the diseased colonic segments and to the corresponding segments in the control subjects.Results: Regular slow waves (SWs) were recorded in control subjects. They showed the same frequency, amplitude, and conduction velocity from the 3 electrodes of the individual subjects. The SWs were followed or superimposed by action potentials (APs). In CD, edematous segments recorded SWs having wave variables lower than those of the controls; APs were less frequent. No SWs were registered from scarred gut segments. In UC, SWs had a higher frequency but lower amplitude and conduction velocity than those of control subjects; APs were more frequent.Conclusions: Electrocolography is suggested to act as an investigative tool in differentiating between UC and CD. The electric activity presented with a “tachyrhythmic” electrogram in UC and “bradyrhythmic” or “silent” electrogram in CD.

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