D-xylose absorption test. Urine or blood?

Dig Dis Sci. 1991 Feb;36(2):188-92. doi: 10.1007/BF01300755.


The D-xylose absorption test has been used during the last four decades for evaluation of malabsorption in the small intestine. However, some disagreement still exists about the recommended method of performing this test: the 1-hr blood test, the 5-hr urine test, or both. We evaluated the test by performing 125 combined blood and urine tests in 111 patients. Normal xylose absorption was recorded in both blood and urine in 71 tests (group A, 56.8%). Abnormal test results in both blood and urine were recorded in 29 patients (group B, 23.2%). Only one patient had a pathological blood value and normal xylose excretion in the urine. Twenty-four patients (group D, 19.2%) had normal 1-hr blood xylose (greater than 25 mg/100 ml) with abnormal 5-hr urine xylose (less than 4.5 g/5 hr). Fat and/or bile salt malabsorption were documented in 21 patients (87.5%) of this group using stool fat analysis and the [14C]cholylglycine breath test. These data suggest that in adults the 5-hr urine collection more accurately reflects intestinal absorption in comparison with the 1-hr blood value.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breath Tests
  • Fats / analysis
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Glycocholic Acid / analysis
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Xylose* / blood
  • Xylose* / urine


  • Fats
  • Xylose
  • Glycocholic Acid