Objective: Scintigraphy remains the gold standard to study gastric emptying. The technique is onerous and normal values vary between centers. Standardized protocols, although desirable, are not presently available. We validated a simplified scintigraphic protocol in a multicenter setting.
Methods: In 69 healthy volunteers from seven Canadian institutions, gastric emptying of a standard meal (99mTc-labeled beef liver) was assessed by scintigraphy every 10 min for 1 h, then every 20 min for the next 2 h. Gastric retention was fitted to a power exponential model, Prop(t) = (-(kappat)beta) with Prop(t) = proportion of retention at time t, either using all 13 time intervals (conventional technique) or using measurements at 0, 1, 2, and 3 h (simplified technique).
Results: The power exponential model yielded identical emptying curves and T 1/2 values with both techniques. Gastric emptying was more rapid in men than in women < 35 yr (p<0.01) and in younger than in older men (p<0.005). Gastric emptying was slower in women from Québec than in women from Ontario (p<0.04). Gastric retention was similar at 1, 2, and 3 h among the seven centers. Gastric emptying of a beef liver meal was slower than that of a low fat egg substitute (p<0.03).
Conclusions: A simpler scintigraphic approach, using four rather than 13 samples, provides results comparable to those of the conventional technique. This simpler approach provides an economical, yet accurate, alternative to the techniques presently used and is applicable to a multicenter setting.