Gastric arrhythmia continues to be of uncertain diagnostic and therapeutic significance. However, recent progress has been substantial, with technical advances, theoretical insights and experimental discoveries offering new translational opportunities. The discoveries that interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) generate slow waves and that ICC defects are associated with dysmotility have reinvigorated gastric arrhythmia research. Increasing evidence now suggests that ICC depletion and damage, network disruption and channelopathies may lead to aberrant slow wave initiation and conduction. Histological and high-resolution (HR) electrical mapping studies have now redefined the human 'gastric conduction system', providing an improved baseline for arrhythmia research. The application of HR mapping to arrhythmia has also generated important new insights into the spatiotemporal dynamics of arrhythmia onset and maintenance, resulting in the emergence of new provisional classification schemes. Meanwhile, the strong associations between gastric functional disorders and electrogastrography (EGG) abnormalities (e.g. in gastroparesis, unexplained nausea and vomiting and functional dyspepsia) continue to motivate deeper inquiries into the nature and causes of gastrointestinal arrhythmias. In future, technical progress in EGG methods, new HR mapping devices and software, wireless slow wave acquisition systems and improved gastric pacing devices may achieve validated applications in clinical practice. Neurohormonal factors in arrhythmogenesis also continue to be elucidated and a deepening understanding of these mechanisms may open opportunities for drug design for treating arrhythmias. However, for all translational goals, it remains to be seen whether arrhythmia can be corrected in a way that meaningfully improves organ function and symptoms in patients.
© 2014 Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.