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August 24, 1929


JAMA. 1929;93(8):592-595. doi:10.1001/jama.1929.02710080018008

The term "irritable colon" has been used to define a condition in which the musculoneural apparatus of the colon has lost its coordination and correlated function. There is no evidence of an inflammatory process, and the term colitis is, therefore, as poorly chosen as would be the word myocarditis in the condition of irritable heart. The word "irritable," since it implies hyperirritable, is likewise not entirely adequate as a descriptive term, since certain forms of this condition are characterized by decreased irritability, and since changes in tone, and even musculoneural exhaustion

and failure (with or without hyperirritability), are often the characteristic observations in this condition.

In the absence of more precise terminology, however, the condition may be described as irritable colon and defined as a disturbance in the normal function which consists of the propulsion of colonic contents from cecum to rectum, the reabsorption of fluid, and the digestion of