The historical background and current status of manometry of the small intestine are reviewed. The evolution of technology for the assessment of small intestinal motor activity in man is described and advances in physiology and pathophysiology highlighted. Technological advances over the past several decades have permitted the extensive study of intestinal motility in man and have led to both a greater understanding of intestinal motor physiology and an increased awareness of the breadth of intrinsic variability. Though motor patterns have been described in various disease states, the definition of the clinical utility of intestinal manometry must await further prospective studies, which should, in particular, compare manometry with other available and less invasive tests.
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