Methods for the assessment of small-bowel and colonic transit

Semin Nucl Med. 2012 Mar;42(2):113-23. doi: 10.1053/j.semnuclmed.2011.10.004.


Transit assessment of the small intestine and colon is relevant in the study of physiology, pathophysiology, and pharmacodynamics, and there is increasing use of small-bowel and colonic transit measurements in clinical practice as well. The main methods that are applied in clinical practice are substrate-hydrogen breath tests for small-bowel transit and radiopaque markers for colonic transit. Over the past 2-3 decades, scintigraphy has become the preferred standard in research studies, particularly for studies of pathophysiology and pharmacodynamics. New approaches include experimental stable isotope measurement of orocecal transit and the recently approved method using a wireless motility capsule that is validated as an accurate measurement of small-bowel and colonic transit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breath Tests
  • Colon / physiology*
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures* / instrumentation
  • Gastrointestinal Transit*
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / physiology*