Physiological measurement

Measurement of gastric emptying by the 13C-octanoate breath test--rationalization with scintigraphy.

PMID 16462014


The (13)C-octanoate breath test has not achieved universal acceptance for the measurement of solid phase gastric emptying, largely because the results are not comparable with those from direct methods such as scintigraphy. To convert breath-test data to their scintigraphic equivalent scale corrections are applied which have been obtained from population studies, but there is no guarantee that these are applicable in all cases. We propose an alternative method applicable on an individual basis based upon a simple physiological model which does not require any change to the breath-test protocol. It is demonstrated by comparison with scintigraphy and the octanoate saliva test. Results from an existing dataset of simultaneous breath test, saliva test and scintigraphic determinations of solid phase gastric emptying from nine healthy subjects were re-analysed. The corrected breath tests gave gastric emptying curves which were shown to be not significantly different to those obtained from scintigraphy. The method provides a simple but effective way of generating gastric emptying curves from breath-test data that are directly comparable with direct measurement methods, which is advantageous since it allows the whole of the gastric emptying profile to be generated, not just values for the lag phase and half-emptying times.