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Motility disorders

Our services A-Z

The gastrointestinal motility service undertakes studies to determine if the bowel movements are normal. We can determine if the swallowing mechanism of the oesophagus is normal, and if there is a problem with the valves (sphincters) which may allow acid reflux.

With the help of our colleagues in nuclear medicine we can also measure the rate at which food travels through the entire gastrointestinal tract including the stomach. The non-invasive urea breath test allows diagnosis of helicobacter pylori infection of the stomach, this bacteria can cause ulcers. Sometimes too many bacteria grow in the small intestine and can interfere with digestion. We call this bacterial overgrowth. This can be diagnosed with another type of breath test, called a hydrogen breath test.

We also offer a service called biofeedback which is useful for severe constipation, evacuatory disorders and bowel incontinence. This is a rather new specialised service which is based on non-invasive methods to treat these conditions. We have recently added sacral nerve stimulation to our service which has been producing very good results for treating bowel incontinence. Many patients with the irritable bowel syndrome have associated motility disorders such as evacuatory disorders and gastro-oesophageal reflux. The Addenbrooke’s IBS service works closely with the motility department to provide comprehensive investigation and treatment.

The GI Motility Service at Addenbrooke’s Hospital was established in 2002. It is managed and run by Dr. Stephen J Middleton MA, MD, FRCP (Motility Unit Director, consultant gastroenterologist), Dr. Xiaomei Ouyang MB BS, PhD (clinical scientist and lead GI physiologist), Sister. Lynette Byatt (specialist nurse), Sister Catherine Price (specialist nurse), Ms. Dianne Cinque (assistant physician), Mrs. Bridget Chukualim (data manager) and Ms. Paula Block (clinical coordinator). The following services are provided by the GI Motility Unit:

  • Oesophageal motility testing (Dr. Xiaomei Ouyang, from Monday to Friday throughout the year)
  • Ambulatory pH studies (Dr. Xiaomei Ouyang, from Monday to Friday throughout the year)
  • Biofeedback/bowel retraining for fecal incontinence or constipation (Sister. Lynette Byatt, once a week throughout the year)
  • Hydrogen breath tests for small bowel bacterial overgrowth and carbohydrate malabsorption (Ms. Dianne Cinque, every Thursday throughout the year)
  • Breath tests for h. pylori infection (Sister. Catherine Price, first and third Thursday of the month) 

Patients with GI motility disorders may be seen initially in Clinic 12, Gastroenterology outpatient, or they may be referred directly to the GI Motility Unit if referring physicians anticipate that diagnostic motility testing or biofeedback training will be needed. Diagnostic motility tests may be requested directly by outside physicians, but a medical consultation with one of the clinicians affiliated with the GI Motility Service is recommended.