'An investigation of the nervous control of defecation' by Denny-Brown and Robertson: A classic paper revisited

Joel A. Vilensky, D. R. Bell, S. Gilman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


In 1935 two young neurologists, Derek Denny-Brown and E. Graeme Robertson, published an article explaining the mechanisms underlying human defaecation based on a manometric study in patients with sacral root and spinal cord lesions, and normal subjects. This article is still routinely cited in studies of rectal and sphincter ani function. Unfortunately, however, the article itself is not written well, being composed of long convoluted sentences and containing 79 often indecipherable figures. Difficult-to-understand articles were common to the publications of Denny-Brown, who became one of the most prominent neurologists of the twentieth century. In accord with our prior work explaining Denny-Brown and Robertson's earlier paper on micturition, we provide here what we hope is a clear explanation of the methods and results in their study on defaecation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-383
Number of pages8
JournalColorectal Disease
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology

Cite this