Control of the peristalsis in the oesophagusImportance of forceful peristalsis in reflux disease.
Peristalsis in the striated muscle of the proximal oesophagus is stimulated by sequential vagal excitation directed from the brainstem and carried to the oesophagus by the recurrent laryngeal branches of the vagus.
Peristalsis in oesophageal smooth muscle is more complex and requires integration of central and peripheral neural mechanisms with smooth muscle properties.
The propagation of peristalsis in the smooth muscle segment involves two peripheral vagal pathways.
One pathway mediates cholinergic excitation (depolarisation) of both longitudinal and circular smooth muscle whilst the other mediates non-adrenergic non-cholinergic inhibition of circular muscle (hyperpolarisation).
Upon swallowing there is almost simultaneous activation of the inhibitory pathway followed by a delayed sequential activation of the excitatory pathway.
This creates a wave of mechanical inhibition (latency) followed by contraction along the oesophagus, constituting peristalsis.
Osteopaths treat high cervical lesions to get stronger peristalsis, so food can be better pushed through the cardia.