Rectoanal Inhibitory Reflex

The rectoanal inhibitory reflex is thought to have a role in the fine adjustments of continence. Rectal distension, usually with small volumes (10-30mL), causes a contraction of the external anal sphincter followed by a pronounced internal anal sphincter relaxation. This reflex enables the sensory mucosa of the anal canal to "sample" the contents of the distal rectum and the patient to distinguish between gas, liquid, and solid stool. This reflex is absent or abnormal in patients with Hirschsprung's disease, Chagas' disease, dermatomyositis, and scleroderma.

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