Skip to Main Content
We have developed a simulation of magnetic fields from gastrointestinal (GI) smooth muscle. Current sources are modeled as depolarization dipoles at the leading edge of the isopotential ring of electrical control activity (ECA) that is driven by coupled cells in the GI musculature. The dipole moment resulting from the known transmembrane potential distribution varies in frequency and phase depending on location in the GI tract. Magnetic fields in a homogeneous volume conductor are computed using the law of Biot-Savart and characterized by their spatial and temporal variation. The model predicts that the natural ECA frequency gradient may be detected by magnetic field detectors outside the abdomen. It also shows that propagation of the ECA in the gastric musculature results in propagating magnetic field patterns. Uncoupling of gastric smooth muscle cells disrupts the normal magnetic field propagation pattern. Intestinal ischemia, which has been experimentally characterized by lower-than-normal ECA frequencies, also produces external magnetic fields with lower ECA frequencies.