Applied potential tomography. A new noninvasive technique for measuring gastric emptying

Gastroenterology. 1987 Apr;92(4):1019-26.


Applied potential tomography is a new, noninvasive technique that yields sequential images of the resistivity of gastric contents after subjects have ingested a liquid or semisolid meal. This study validates the technique as a means of measuring gastric emptying. Experiments in vitro showed an excellent correlation between measurements of resistivity and either the square of the radius of a glass rod or the volume of water in a spherical balloon when both were placed in an oval tank containing saline. Altering the lateral position of the rod in the tank did not alter the values obtained. Images of abdominal resistivity were also directly correlated with the volume of air in a gastric balloon. Profiles of gastric emptying of liquid meals obtained using applied potential tomography were very similar to those obtained using scintigraphy or dye dilution techniques, provided that acid secretion was inhibited by cimetidine. Profiles of emptying of a mashed potato meal using applied potential tomography were also very similar to those obtained by scintigraphy. Measurements of the emptying of a liquid meal from the stomach were reproducible if acid secretion was inhibited by cimetidine. Thus, applied potential tomography is an accurate and reproducible method of measuring gastric emptying of liquids and particulate food. It is inexpensive, well tolerated, easy to use, and ideally suited for multiple studies in patients, even those who are pregnant.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Colloids
  • Dye Dilution Technique
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electrodes
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Gastric Acid / metabolism
  • Gastric Emptying*
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Gastrointestinal
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Models, Structural
  • Technetium
  • Technetium Compounds*
  • Tin
  • Tin Compounds*
  • Tomography / instrumentation
  • Tomography / methods*


  • Colloids
  • Technetium Compounds
  • Tin Compounds
  • technetium Tc 99m tin colloid
  • Technetium
  • Tin