Short- and medium-term reproducibility of gastric emptying of a solid meal determined by a low dose of 13C-octanoic acid and nondispersive isotope-selective infrared spectrometry

World J Gastroenterol. 2006 Feb 28;12(8):1243-8. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i8.1243.


Aim: To evaluate the reproducibility of a modified 13C breath test-based measurement of solid phase gastric emptying (GE) within the frames of a simple-repeated measure study protocol.

Methods: Twelve healthy subjects (6 females and 6 males, mean age 24.9+/-0.7 years) were recruited to undergo three identical GE examinations. In six subjects the first two examinations were performed 2 d apart, and the third session was carried out at a median interval of 19.5 d (range 18-20 d) from the second one. In another six subjects the first two measurements were taken 20 d apart (median, range: 17-23 d), whereas the third session took place 2 d after the second one. Probes of expiratory air collected before and during six hours after intake of a solid meal (378 kcal) labelled with 75 microL (68 mg) 13C-octanoic acid, were measured for 13CO2 enrichment with the nondispersive isotope-selective infrared spectrometry NDIRS apparatus.

Results: Taking coefficients of variation for paired examinations into account, the short-term reproducibility of the GE measurement was slightly but not significantly better than the medium-term one: 7.7% and 11.2% for the lag phase (T-Lag), 7.3% and 10.9% for the gastric half emptying time (T1/2). The least differences in GE parameters detectable at P=0.05 level in the 12 paired examinations were 9.6 and 15.6 min for T-Lag, 11.6 and 19.7 min for T1/2 by a two-day or two to three-week time gap, respectively.

Conclusion: The low-cost modification of the breath test involving a lower dose of 13C-octanoic acid and NDIRS, renders good short- and medium-term reproducibility, as well as sensitivity of the measurement of gastric emptying of solids.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breath Tests / methods*
  • Caprylates / administration & dosage*
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Food*
  • Gastric Emptying*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared*
  • Time Factors


  • Caprylates
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • octanoic acid