Department of Medicine

University of Pittsburgh

Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
Mezzanine Level,
200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: (412) 648-9115

Neurogastroenterology & Motility Center

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Neurogastroenterology and Motility Center combines clinical expertise for the evaluation and management of a wide variety of functional gastrointestinal disorders with innovative research in visceral pain syndromes as well as disorders of gastrointestinal motility.

The activities of the Center's physicians and scientists reflect the gradually evolving concept that functional GI disorders are not due solely to motility disturbances but rather are associated with altered brain-gut interactions, visceral hypersensitivity and, in some cases, disturbances of GI function mediated by mucosal immunological events. The spectrum of functional GI disorders ranges from those associated with characteristic motility patterns such as achalasia, gastroparesis and intestinal pseudo-obstruction to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, functional dyspepsia and functional noncardiac chest pain which are not explainable by motility disturbances but rather are characterized by a biopsychosocial model. The latter disorders are best evaluated by pathophysiologic investigations which are not restricted to motility.

The GI Motility Laboratory at UPMC continues to be an important core facility supporting clinical activities of the center. Under the direction of Dr. Klaus Bielefeldt [link], the Motility Laboratory performs numerous diagnostic studies including esophageal, anorectal and gastroduodenal manometry, ambulatory esophageal pH studies using tubeless capsule technology, colon transit and breath H2 studies. These tests are supplemented by those in other departments including gastric and gallbladder emptying (Nuclear Medicine), pelvic floor neurophysiology (Rehabilitation Medicine) and pelvic floor MRI and anal sonography (Radiology at Magee-Womens Hospital).

Center physicians have regionally and nationally recognized expertise in disorders of colonic and anorectal function such as severe constipation, fecal incontinence, chronic proctalgia syndromes, esophageal motility disorders, gastroparesis and intestinal dysmotility disorders. The Center also serves as a tertiary referral center for patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome, chronic visceral pain syndromes and chronic intestinal failure.

The Neurogastroenterology & Motility Center's conducts both translational and basic science research. Primary research themes include:

  • Research concerning the cross-sensitization of pelvic viscera and implications for the overlap of chronic pelvic pain disorders
  • Study of the peripheral mechanisms of visceral pain led by Dr. Klaus Bielefeldt;
  • Exploration of the intrinsic relationship between target-tissue production of neurotrophic factors and sensory neuron function led by Dr. Kathryn Albers;
  • Research advancements addressing postoperative ileus and hemorrhagic shock led by Dr. Anthony Bauer;
  • Studies on the role of growth factors in the development and adult plasticity of the central and peripheral nervous system led by Dr. Brian Davis;
  • Research interplay between neural pathways and inflammatory mediators and effects on motility disorders such as postoperative ileus or ileus of sepsis led by Dr. Christianna Kreiss;
  • Studies of the role of neurotrophic factors in the development and functional regulation of sensory neurons as well as the molecular basis of sensory neuron signal transduction in pathological pain states led by Dr. Derek Molliver.

The following Neurogastroenterology & Motility Center team members work actively to diagnose, treat and cure functional bowel diseases:

Other links related to gastroenterology motility diseases:

American Motility Society

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders