Published online Jan 14, 2009. doi: 10.3748/wjg.15.169
Revised: December 12, 2008
Accepted: December 19, 2008
Published online: January 14, 2009
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the system of organs within multi-cellular animals that takes in food, digests it to extract energy and nutrients, and expels the remaining waste. The various patterns of GI tract function are generated by the integrated behaviour of multiple tissues and cell types. A thorough study of the GI tract requires understanding of the interactions between cells, tissues and gastrointestinal organs in health and disease. This depends on knowledge, not only of numerous cellular ionic current mechanisms and signal transduction pathways, but also of large scale GI tissue structures and the special distribution of the nervous network. A unique way of coping with this explosion in complexity is mathematical and computational modelling; providing a computational framework for the multilevel modelling and simulation of the human gastrointestinal anatomy and physiology. The aim of this review is to describe the current status of biomechanical modelling work of the GI tract in humans and animals, which can be further used to integrate the physiological, anatomical and medical knowledge of the GI system. Such modelling will aid research and ensure that medical professionals benefit, through the provision of relevant and precise information about the patient’s condition and GI remodelling in animal disease models. It will also improve the accuracy and efficiency of medical procedures, which could result in reduced cost for diagnosis and treatment.