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Chapter 20 (page 94)
Radiographically it was shown in 49 of 50 cases of so-called pylorospasm that spasm of
the ring did not exist and that the aperture, in fact, was widely patent. The lack of
peristalsis, lack of cyclical contractions of the sphincteric cylinder and delayed emptying
in these cases could be explained on the basis of gastric hypotonicity (Chap. 19). It
seems probable that in the past many cases have been diagnosed incorrectly as reflex
"pylorospasm" (where pylorospasm was equated with spasm of the pyloric ring). Far
from throwing much light on the relationship of pylorospasm to intra-abdominal disease,
as Hughson (l925) would have it, radiology seems to have led to confusion in these cases.
It is clear, on the other hand, that spasm of the pyloric sphincteric cylinder as a whole,
can and does occur. Torgersen (l942) was one of the first to draw attention to this entity
and to explain the morphology on the basis of the underlying anatomy. Well documented
cases have subsequently been described by Astley (l952), Wood and Astley (l952) and
Craig (l955); the spasm of the "antropyloric region" described by Swischuk (l978, l980)
and the infantile pylorospasm mentioned by Franken (l982) appear to be of a similar
Although Larson et al. (l967) and Bateson et al (l969) did not refer to the pyloric
sphincteric cylinder, it appears if the "antral" contractions which they observed at
operation, were limited to this muscular entity. The temporary contraction or spasm
described by Keet and Heydenrych (l97l) during experimental stimulation of the vagus
trunks, clearly involved the sphincteric cylinder.
The cylindrical contractions of the "distal antrum" and pylorus noted by Blumhagen and
Coombs (l98l) and Blumhagen and Noble (l983) at ultrasonography, was called
pylorospasm. It was not explained on the basis of the underlying anatomy as determined
by Cunningham (l906), Forssell (l913) and Torgersen (l942), but, according to the
description, appeared to involve the sphincteric cylinder. Ultrasound measurements of
the "length of the pyloric muscle" (Wilson and Vanhoutte l984; Graif et al. l984) and the
length of the "pyloric canal in its most contracted state" (Stunden et al. l986) also point to
the existence of a muscular cylinder, which is liable to undergo spasm (Haller and Cohen
Five new cases of pylorospasm in infants and adults in which spasm clearly involved the
pyloric sphincteric cylinder have been described here.
It is concluded on anatomical, physiological, manometric, sonographic and radiographic
evidence that spasm of the pyloric ring per se, is unlikely to occur; spasm of the entire
pyloric sphincteric cylinder, on the other hand, can be demonstrated clearly.
One of the consequences of spasm of the sphincteric cylinder is that the pyloric aperture
may be fixed in the open or patent position (Chap. 13); this may be a factor in the
occurrence of duodenogastric reflux (Chap. 27). One of the adult cases described here
had visible duodenogastric reflux and one of the infants presented with persistent bile-
stained vomiting, indicating bile reflux.
Spasm of the cylinder implies absent or decreased cyclical contractions of this part of the
stomach, normally occurring at a rate of 3 per minute in man (Chap. 13). This fact may
readily be established during radiographic examinations. Decreased cyclical activity of
the cylinder may lead to impaired trituration and delayed emptying of solids (Chap. 18).
- Astley R. The radiology of "atypical" hypertrophic pyloric stenosis. Brit J
Rad l952, 25, 342-350.
- Atkinson M, Edwards DAW, Honour AJ, et al. Comparison of cardiac and
pyloric sphincters: a manometric study. Lancet l957, 273, 918-922.
- Bastianelli R. Pylorus spasm and its surgical treatment. Ann Surg
l925, 81, 45-51.
- Bateson EM, Talerman A, Walrond ER. Radiological and pathological
observations in a series of seventeen cases of hypertrophic pyloric stenosis of
adults. Brit J Rad l969, 42, 1-8.
- Blumhagen JD, Coombs JB. Ultrasound in the diagnosis of hypertrophic pyloric
stenosis. J Clin Ultrasound l98l, 9, 289-292.
- Blumhagen JD, Noble HGS. Muscle thickness in hypertrophic pyloric stenosis:
sonographic determination. Amer J Roentg Rad Ther Nucl Med
l983, 140, 221-223.
- Cole LG. Physiology of the pylorus, pilleus ventriculi and duodenum as observed
roentgenographically. J Amer Med Assoc l913, 61, 762-767.
- Cole LG. The living stomach and its motor phenomenon. Acta Rad
l928, 9, 533-545.
- Craig WS. Palpable contractile tumors in the newly born. Arch Dis
Child l955, 30, 484-492.
- Cunningham DJ. The varying form of the stomach in man and the anthropoid
ape. Trans Roy Soc Edin l906, 45, 9-47.
- Deaver JB, Burden VG. The surgery of pylorospasm. Ann Surg
l929, 90, 530-534.
- Forssell G. Ueber die Beziehung der Röntgenbilder des menschlichen
Magens zu seinem anatomischen Bau. Fortschr Geb
Röntgenstr l913, Suppl 30, 1-265.
- Franken EA. Gastrointestinal Imaging in Pediatrics. Harper and
Row, Philadelphia l982, 2nd Edit, p 131.
- Graif M, Itzchak Y, Avigad I, et al. The pylorus in infancy: overall sonographic
assessment. Pediatr Radiol l984, 14, 14-17.
- Haller JO, Cohen HL. Hypertrophic pyloric stenosis: diagnosis using US.
Radiology l986, 161, 335-339.
- Hughson W. Reflex spasm of the pylorus and its relation to diseases of the
digestive organs. Arch Surg l925, 11, 136-151.
- Keet AD, Heydenrych JJ. Hiatus hernia, pyloric muscle hypertrophy and
contracted pyloric segment in adults. Amer J Roentg Rad Ther Nucl
Med l97l, 113, 217-227.
- Larson LJ, Carlson HC, Dockerty MB. Roentgenologic diagnosis of pyloric
hypertrophy in adults. Amer J Roentg Rad Ther Nucl Med l967, 101,
- Levin B. Miscellaneous gastric lesions. Sem Roentg l97l, 6, 193-
- Stunden RJ, Le Quesne GW, Little KET. The improved ultrasound diagnosis of
hypertrophic stenosis. Pediatr Radiol l986, 16, 200-205.
- Swischuk LE. Radiology of the Newborn and Young Infant.
Williams and Wilkins Co, Baltimore l978, p 274.
- Swischuk LE. Radiology of the Newborn and Young Infant.
Williams and Wilkins Co., Baltimore, 2nd ed l980, pp 364-381.
- Torgersen J. The muscular build and movements of the stomach and duodenal
bulb. Acta Rad l942, Suppl 45, pp 79, 115.
- Wilson DA, Vanhoutte JJ. The reliable sonographic diagnosis of hypertrophic
pyloric stenosis. J Clin Ultrasound l984, 12, 201-204.
- Wood BSB, Astley R. Vomiting of uncertain origin in young infants. Arch
Dis Child l952, 27, 562-568.
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