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Comparison of continuous breath test and gastric scintigraphy for the measurement of gastric emptying rate in healthy and dyspeptic individuals

Dickman, Rama,e; Zilper, Tatyanaa,c; Steinmetz, Adamb,e; Pakanaev, Leaa; Ron, Yishaid,e; Bernstine, Hannab,e; Groshar, Davidb,e; Niv, Yarona,e; Shirin, Haime,f

European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: March 2013 - Volume 25 - Issue 3 - p 291–295
doi: 10.1097/MEG.0b013e32835c075d
Original Articles: Gastro-oesophageal Disorders

Objective To determine normative gastric emptying rates for the continuous breath test and to compare its findings with gastric scintigraphy in healthy volunteers and dyspeptic patients.

Methods A standard 250 kcal meal double-labeled with 1 mCi 99mTc colloid and 100 μg nonradioactive 13C-octanoic acid was administered to 20 healthy individuals and 22 dyspeptic patients attending a tertiary medical center in 2009–2010. Gastric emptying rate was measured simultaneously with sequential gastric scintigraphy and the continuous breath test. The results of the healthy controls were used as a normative reference. The findings of the two tests were analyzed by linear regression and κ statistics. In addition, the gastric half-emptying times (T ½) were compared by a κ test for evaluating the agreement of normal/abnormal results in both methods.

Results Background features were as follows: healthy individuals – 15 men/5 women, mean age 44.9±14 years and mean BMI 26.8±3.5; dyspeptic patients – 5 men/17 women, mean age 58.0±13 years and mean BMI 25.3±5.5. The upper limit of normal for gastric half-emptying time (T ½) was 140 min by the breath test. The linear correlation of T ½ between the methods was 0.64. The agreement of normal/abnormal T ½ between the methods was 0.65.

Conclusion The continuous breath test may be a suitable method for the evaluation of gastric emptying. A larger study is required to determine its feasibility as the standard of care in dyspeptic patients.

aDivision of Gastroenterology

Departments of bNuclear Medicine

cInternal Medicine A, Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tikva

dDepartment of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Sourasky Medical Center

eSackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv

fGastroenterology Institute, Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, Tzrifin, Israel

This work was presented at The Digestive Disease Week, Chicago, IL, USA, May 2011. Parts of this work have been published as an abstract in Endoscopy 2010; 42 (Suppl I): A161.

Correspondence to Ram Dickman, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson Hospital, Petah Tikva 49100, Israel Tel: +972 3 9377236; fax: +972 3 9210313; e-mail:

Received August 28, 2012

Accepted October 25, 2012

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.