- The relative contributions to gastric emptying from common cavity antroduodenal pressure difference ("pressure pump") vs. propagating high-pressure waves in the distal antrum ("peristaltic pump") were analyzed in humans by high-resolution manometry concurrently with time-resolved three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging during intraduodenal nutrient infusion at 2 kcal/min. Gastric volume, space-time pressure, and contraction wave histories in the antropyloroduodenal region were measured in seven healthy subjects. The subjects fell into two distinct groups with an order of magnitude difference in levels of antral pressure activity. However, there was no significant difference in average rate of gastric emptying between the two groups. Antral pressure history was separated into "propagating high-pressure events" (HPE), "nonpropagating HPEs," and "quiescent periods." Quiescent periods dominated, and average pressure during quiescent periods remained unchanged with decreasing gastric volume, suggesting that common cavity pressure levels were maintained by increasing wall muscle tone with decreasing volume. When propagating HPEs moved to within 2-3 cm of the pylorus, pyloric resistance was found statistically to increase with decreasing distance between peristaltic waves and the pylorus. We conclude that transpyloric flow tends to be blocked when antral contraction waves are within a "zone of influence" proximal to the pylorus, suggesting physiological coordination between pyloric and antral contractile activity. We further conclude that gastric emptying of nutrient liquids is primarily through the "pressure pump" mechanism controlled by pyloric opening during periods of relative quiescence in antral contractile wave activity.