Gastric emptying: comparison of scintigraphic, polyethylene glycol dilution, and paracetamol tracer assessment techniques

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2000 Apr;35(4):375-9. doi: 10.1080/003655200750023930.


Background: The method of choice for studying gastric emptying is dependent on several factors. The aim of the present study was to assess the concordance between solid gastric emptying, using a scintigraphic technique as gold standard, and gastric emptying as measured with parcetamol tracer and polyethylene glycol (PEG) dilution.

Methods: Two groups of seven male volunteers with similar ages and weights were studied, one for scintigraphic (310-kcal omelette with 12-15 MBq 99mTc-labeled macroaggregated albumin) and paracetamol (1.5 g dissolved in water and administered concomitantly with the omelette) and one for the marker dilution study (PEG 4000 dissolved in a 310-kcal meal).

Results: The gastric half-emptying time (T50) was shorter in the PEG study than in the scintigraphic test (47.5 (37.5-62) versus 68.1 (43.6-89.4), median (range) (P < 0.05), respectively), whereas there was no significant difference between the T50 for gastric emptying as assessed with the scintigraphic and paracetamol tracer methods. No difference in gastric emptying rate using PEG dilution or paracetamol tracer was obtained.

Conclusions: In summary, this study shows that scintigraphic, paracetamol tracer, and PEG dilution methods can all be used to assess gastric emptying. The use of the paracetamol tracer technique offers a relatively inexpensive technique that yields a good approximation of gastric emptying as verified by the scintigraphic emptying of a solid meal.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen*
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic*
  • Gastric Emptying*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polyethylene Glycols*
  • Radionuclide Imaging / methods*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Stomach / diagnostic imaging
  • Stomach / physiology
  • Surface-Active Agents*


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Acetaminophen
  • Polyethylene Glycols