Peristalsis

Alternative names
Intestinal motility

Definition
Peristalsis is a series of coordinated, rhythmic muscle contractions. It is an automatic and vital process that moves food through the digestive tract, urine from the kidneys through the ureters into the bladder, and bile from the gallbladder into the duodenum.

Peristalsis is a normal function of the body to move fluid from one place to another. It can sometimes be felt in the abdomen as gas moves along. Peristaltic waves look like the muscle contractions of a snake’s underbelly that enable it to move along a surface.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Gevorg A. Poghosian, Ph.D.

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