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Peristalsis

Show Alternative Names
Intestinal motility

Peristalsis is a series of muscle contractions. These contractions occur in your digestive tract. Peristalsis is also seen in the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder.

Peristalsis is an automatic and important process. It moves:

  • Food through the digestive system
  • Urine from the kidneys into the bladder
  • Bile from the gallbladder into the duodenum

Peristalsis is a normal function of the body. It can sometimes be felt in your belly (abdomen) as gas moves along.

Video Transcript

Peristalsis - Animation

This animation follows the processing of food through the digestive tract, focusing on the intestinal peristaltic movement (a series of wave-like muscle contractions that moves the food mixture down the digestive tract).

Text only

Review Date: 8/13/2020

Reviewed By

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

References

Hall JE, Hall ME. General principles of gastrointestinal function - motility, nervous control, and blood circulation. In: Hall JE, Hall ME, eds. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 63.

Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary. Peristalsis. www.merriam-webster.com/medical. Accessed October 22, 2020.

Disclaimer

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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Videos
Images
Digestive system - Illustration Thumbnail

Digestive system

The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.

Illustration

Ileus - X-ray of distended bowel and stomach - Illustration Thumbnail

Ileus - X-ray of distended bowel and stomach

This abdominal X-ray shows a stomach filled with fluid and a swollen (distended) small bowel, caused by a blockage (pseudo-obstruction) in the intestines. A solution containing a dye (barium) that is visible on X-rays was swallowed by the patient (upper GI series).

Illustration

Ileus - X-ray of bowel distension - Illustration Thumbnail

Ileus - X-ray of bowel distension

This abdominal x-ray shows thickening of the bowel wall and swelling (distention) caused by a blockage (pseudo-obstruction) in the intestines. A solution containing a dye (barium), which is visible on X-ray, was swallowed by the patient (the procedure is known as an upper GI series).

Illustration

Peristalsis - Illustration Thumbnail

Peristalsis

A series of normal coordinated, rhythmic muscle contractions, that occurs automatically to move food through the digestive tract is called peristalsis.

Illustration

Digestive system - Illustration Thumbnail

Digestive system

The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.

Illustration

Ileus - X-ray of distended bowel and stomach - Illustration Thumbnail

Ileus - X-ray of distended bowel and stomach

This abdominal X-ray shows a stomach filled with fluid and a swollen (distended) small bowel, caused by a blockage (pseudo-obstruction) in the intestines. A solution containing a dye (barium) that is visible on X-rays was swallowed by the patient (upper GI series).

Illustration

Ileus - X-ray of bowel distension - Illustration Thumbnail

Ileus - X-ray of bowel distension

This abdominal x-ray shows thickening of the bowel wall and swelling (distention) caused by a blockage (pseudo-obstruction) in the intestines. A solution containing a dye (barium), which is visible on X-ray, was swallowed by the patient (the procedure is known as an upper GI series).

Illustration

Peristalsis - Illustration Thumbnail

Peristalsis

A series of normal coordinated, rhythmic muscle contractions, that occurs automatically to move food through the digestive tract is called peristalsis.

Illustration

 
 
 
 

 

 
 

 
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