Scintigraphic determination of gastrointestinal transit times. A comparison with breath hydrogen and radiologic methods

Scand J Gastroenterol. 1991 Dec;26(12):1263-71. doi: 10.3109/00365529108998623.


A scintigraphic method for determination of gastrointestinal transit times was compared with the breath hydrogen test and a multiple-bolus, single-radiograph technique. A close temporal association was found between the caecal appearance of radioactivity and the onset of breath hydrogen excretion in eight healthy subjects. Neither mean small-intestinal nor mean orocaecal transit times of the radiolabelled marker were correlated with the magnitude of hydrogen peak, hydrogen peak time, or the area under hydrogen curve. No correlation was noted between whole-gut transit time of the radiolabelled marker and mean whole-gut transit time calculated from a 6-day administration of the radiopaque marker in 16 healthy subjects. The stool weight was inversely correlated with the mean colonic (r = -0.46, p = 0.009) and the mean whole-gut (r = -0.45, p = 0.011) transit times of the radiolabelled marker. In conclusion, inadequate delineation of the caecal region seems to be an unimportant drawback of the scintigraphic measurements, whereas day-to-day variation in gastrointestinal transit rates may influence the reliability of the assessments. Probably, quantitative transit data cannot be obtained from the breath hydrogen concentration profiles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breath Tests*
  • Digestive System / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Food
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Transit / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / analysis
  • Indium Radioisotopes
  • Lactulose
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Technetium Tc 99m Pentetate
  • Time Factors


  • Indium Radioisotopes
  • Lactulose
  • Hydrogen
  • Technetium Tc 99m Pentetate