A barostat is a device used in the medical or health industry to maintain constant pressure in an enclosed environment. The main principle of the device is to provide a constant pressure in a balloon employing a flow control valve and pneumatic pump. A barostat is normally used in neurogastroenterology research. The device measures sensory thresholds and gut wall tension in the gut.
Human research and medical practice
While the barostat is a specially designed instrument used in neurogastroenterology research, it is also used for other research and medical treatments of abnormalities in the rectum ampulla, colon, small bowel, stomach, and oesophagus. Since the body’s gut wall has the constant capacity to expand and contract spontaneously and by reflex, the barostat’s polyethylene balloon must also be able to inflate or deflate very rapidly in keeping up with the gut’s movements.
Thus, modern barostats are now computer-controlled and are being used to assess pain thresholds and sensations in the gut. In the near future there is a possibility that barostats will be capable of diagnostic measurements.
Other human research
The barostat is also used to study the physiology and pathophysiology of the sensory and motor functions of the whole gastrointestinal tract. It can monitor volume changes while maintaining a controlled constant pressure that keeps pace with the expansion and contraction of the gastrointestinal organs. It can also deliver controlled distensions to the gut. Visceral perception and motility can also be monitored and assessed.
Because of the barostat, there is now a better understanding of the physiological processes of the gastrointestinal tract as well as the ability to study various gastrointestinal disorders. Other diseases that are gastrointestinal in origin and systemic diseases affecting the gut can also be monitored and analysed.
The barostat is sometimes used as a clinical tool for the diagnosis and treatment aid of motor and sensitivity disorders of the gut and tract, as well as to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment.
A special type of extremely accurate high-pressure non-medical barostat is used as a pressure regulator in pneumatic air rifles and pistol competitions.
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