Peristalsis vs Segmentation: Difference and Comparison

From respiration to taking food and the digestion of food and muscle contractions involved in the process, there are complex reactions that go on in the body. 

They both are a kind of movement, but the former is a one-direction motion, whereas the latter is responsible for the movement in both directions.

Key Takeaways

  1. Peristalsis involves rhythmic, wave-like contractions of the gastrointestinal tract to propel food forward.
  2. Segmentation consists of alternating contractions and relaxations in the intestines, allowing food to mix and break down.
  3. Both processes play crucial roles in digestion, with peristalsis focusing on movement and segmentation aiding absorption.

Peristalsis vs Segmentation

Peristalsis refers to the contraction and relaxation of the muscles along the gastrointestinal tract that propagates food down the stomach. In this process, food is broken down at a slow rate. Segmentation refers to the rhythmic contraction of circular muscle that mixes food by alternating it back and forth in the gastrointestinal tract.

Peristalsis vs Segmentation

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Peristalsis is the wave-like rhythmic contractions that happen in the oesophagus, which is responsible for the movement of food downwards.

Segmentation is a muscle-type movement that happens in the small intestine, which mainly helps in the mixing of food. The motion is in both the direction back and forth, and circular muscles are involved in the contractions.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPeristalsisSegmentation
DefinitionA type of smooth muscle movement in the GI tract, which pushes the food downward in one direction.A type of smooth muscles contractions that occur in the small intestine and don’t cause net movement of food inside the GI tract.
Types of MusclesIt is due to contractions of circular muscles and longitudinal muscles. Rhythmic contractions of the circular muscles are the reasons for segmentation.
OccurrenceIt mainly predominates in Esophagus.It predominates in the small and large intestines.
Type of MovementThe movement of peristalsis is in a one-way motion in the caudal direction.The movement of segmentation is in both directions, and it also allows a greater mix.
Speed of PropagationHigh-speed propagation of food happens as a result.In segmentation, there is a slow propagation of food.

What is Peristalsis?

Peristalsis, which is also known as Propulsive contractions, is a rhythmic contraction of both circular and longitudinal muscles that pushes the food downward.

It is responsible for breaking down and mixing food with other secretions. But as compared to segmentation, the breaking down of food is slow, but the progression of the bolus through the oesophagus is comparatively high.

It helps in the digestion of food by moving solids or liquids within a tube-like structure of the urinary and digestive tracts. It is involuntary muscle movement that cannot be controlled consciously.


What is Segmentation?

Segmentation which is also known as Mixing contractions, involves contractions of circular muscles in both the direction back and forth in the digestive tract.

It helps in breaking down food into small pieces and helps in easy digestion, and also facilitates absorption. Unlike peristalsis, it does not push the food, but it mashes it and breaks it furthermore.

Furthermore, It can be triggered by pacemaker cells, hormones, chemicals, etc. Factors such as hormones or nervous factors can initiate and maintain the segmentation. 

Main Differences Between Peristalsis and Segmentation

  1. In peristalsis, the breaking of the food takes place at a low rate, whereas, in Segmentation, the breaking of food takes place at a high rate.
  2. High-speed propagation of food takes place in the case of Peristalsis, whereas in Segmentation, there is a slow transmission of food.

Last Updated : 20 August, 2023

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