Key Points continued

migrating motility complexes are replaced by segmental and short peristaltic contractions.

• Contractions in the small intestine are initiated by spike potentials that are superimposed on slow waves.

• The ileocecal sphincter relaxes when the ileum is distended and contracts when the colon distends, thus allowing material to enter the colon and preventing reflux.

• The principal movements of the proximal colon are weak peristaltic contractions that permit storage of contents and absorption of most remaining water.

• Two or three times a day, a peristaltic wave, termed a mass movement, propels a significant amount of material into the distal colon or rectum. Distension of the rectum triggers the rectosphincteric reflex.

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