Migrating Motor Complex

When the small intestine is emptied after the passage of a meal, segmentation contractions stop and is replaced by a pattern of motility called the migrating motor complex (MMC). The MMC is a series of weak peristaltic rushes in the aboral direction, but each rush only occurs along a short distance of the total length. The series begins at the level of the stomach and takes

Time zero Contraction

\ Bolus Receiving segment

Seconds later Bolus moves forward

Direction of movement

Figure 2 Contractions in the gastrointestinal tract. (A) Peristaltic contractions are responsible for forward movement. (B) Segmental contractions are responsible for mixing.

Figure 2 Contractions in the gastrointestinal tract. (A) Peristaltic contractions are responsible for forward movement. (B) Segmental contractions are responsible for mixing.

approximately 2 h to reach the ileo-caecal valve at the distal ileum. It is considered that the MMC performs a 'housekeeping' function by sweeping debris, such as sloughed cells, residual chyme, and bacteria, aborally in the interval between meals. MMCs continue in the absence of eating. When food is introduced into the stomach, MMC patterns are replaced by segmentation contractions.

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