Perspectives of electrogastrography and motion sickness

Cheung B, Vaitkus P

Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Electrogastrography (EGG) is a noninvasive measurement of stomach activity using surface electrodes positioned over the abdominal surface. For over 10 years, EGG has been used as an objective measure of epigastric symptoms and nausea experienced in visually induced sickness provoked by circularvection. It was reported that during sickness, there is a shift in the dominant basal electrical activity. The 3 cycles per minute activity decrease and the 4-9 cycles per minute activity increase. This technique has also been used to evaluate the efficacy of antimotion sickness drugs and to monitor sickness induced by other provocative stimuli such as Coriolis cross-coupling, parabolic flight manoeuvres and microgravity. It has been further postulated that peripheral changes in gastric myoelectrical activity in response to visually induced sickness are detected centrally and lead to the generation of motion sickness. However, other studies using either identical or equally effective motion stimuli failed to support the positive correlation of changes in gastric activity with the incidence and severity of motion sickness. The interpretation of spectral analysis on EGG during motion sickness must be taken with great caution. The inherent variability of the EGG and intersubject variability makes it difficult to consider EGG a reliable and robust indicator of motion sickness. Its relation to motion sickness and the underlying mechanism remains unclear. The true diagnostic value of EGG in motion sickness has yet to be determined.