What is the pathophysiology of visceral hyperalgesia in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Updated: Dec 11, 2019
  • Author: Jenifer K Lehrer, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Visceral hyperalgesia is the second part of the traditional three-part complex that characterizes irritable bowel syndrome. [10]

Enhanced perception of normal motility and visceral pain characterizes irritable bowel syndrome. Rectosigmoid and small bowel balloon inflation produces pain at lower volumes in patients than in controls. Notably, hypersensitivity appears with rapid but not with gradual distention.

Patients who are affected describe widened dermatomal distributions of referred pain. Sensitization of the intestinal afferent nociceptive pathways that synapse in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord provides a unifying mechanism.

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