Gastrointestinal Physiology

Gastrointestinal Physiology is the branch of human physiology that addresses the physical function of the gastrointestinal tract.


Healthcare science staff working in this field specialise in the study of gastrointestinal function and disease, which includes any part of the digestive tract from the oesophagus to the anus and also of the liver, biliary tract and the pancreas. Staff use various highly technical, mechanical and electronic instruments to measure various parameters within the digestive tract, for example, pressure, pH, impedance and tone. They may also use ultrasound of the anal canal and rectum, undertake ‘biofeedback’ therapy with patients who have pelvic floor dysfunction and treat patients with faecal and urinary incontinence using percutaneous tibial nerve neuromodulation (PTNS).

The results of all of these investigations contribute to the care pathway of patients who may have primary swallowing disorders, severe gastro-oesophageal reflux disease or disorders of the gut function, notably faecal incontinence and/or constipation. Depending on the diagnosis of these tests and measurements, suitable intervention can then be offered to these patients.

They are likely to work as part of a multidisciplinary team.

Last updated on 15th February 2024