Evaluation of gastrointestinal transit in clinical practice: position paper of the American and European Neurogastroenterology and Motility Societies

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011 Jan;23(1):8-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2010.01612.x.


Background: Disorders of gastrointestinal (GI) transit and motility are common, and cause either delayed or accelerated transit through the stomach, small intestine or colon, and affect one or more regions. Assessment of regional and/or whole gut transit times can provide direct measurements and diagnostic information to explain the cause of symptoms, and plan therapy.

Purpose: Recently, several newer diagnostic tools have become available. The American and European Neurogastroenterology and Motility Societies undertook this review to provide guidelines on the indications and optimal methods for the use of transit measurements in clinical practice. This was based on evidence of validation including performance characteristics, clinical significance, and strengths of various techniques. The tests include measurements of: gastric emptying with scintigraphy, wireless motility capsule, and (13)C breath tests; small bowel transit with breath tests, scintigraphy, and wireless motility capsule; and colonic transit with radioopaque markers, wireless motility capsule, and scintigraphy. Based on the evidence, consensus recommendations are provided for each technique and for the evaluations of regional and whole gut transit. In summary, tests of gastrointestinal transit are available and useful in the evaluation of patients with symptoms suggestive of gastrointestinal dysmotility, since they can provide objective diagnosis and a rational approach to patient management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breath Tests
  • Capsule Endoscopy
  • Constipation / diagnosis
  • Contrast Media / metabolism
  • Gastric Emptying
  • Gastrointestinal Transit*
  • Gastroparesis / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Radionuclide Imaging / methods
  • Societies*


  • Contrast Media