Cerebral evoked responses to gastrointestinal stimulation in humans.
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Recent advances have permitted recording of evoked potentials (EPs) in response to electrical and mechanical stimulation of the gastrointestinal (GI) organs via methods used primarily in clinical neurophysiology. Current research involving stimulation of the esophagus, rectum, and colon, and recording the corresponding responses on the scalp, is being practiced in only a few laboratories. This review examines the engineering aspects of recording EPs, such as characteristics of the stimuli, placement of stimulus electrodes in the GI tract, and enhancement of evoked potential signals. We also discuss the physiological concepts involved in the generation of EPs, and how these compare with somatosensory evoked responses. Current experimental techniques employed by various investigators and results reported from their laboratories are compared. We believe that cerebral EPs to GI stimulation could be useful in studying a number of pathophysiological conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, diffuse esophageal spasm, chronic inflammatory bowel disorders, chronic abdominal pain, and irritable bowel syndrome, among others. We hope that the present review will generate interest in the use of EPs arising out of GI stimulation, aiding in understanding their physiological implications in healthy subjects and in GI disorders.