Objective: To describe an initial clinical experience with a noninvasive scintigraphic technique for assessing gastrointestinal motility.
Design: We studied gastric, small bowel, and colonic transit in 109 unselected patients encountered between June and December 1992 at the Mayo Clinic.
Material and methods: The study patients were categorized on the basis of major complaint (constipation in 46, upper gastrointestinal symptoms in 45, and diarrhea in 18) and presence or absence of an underlying organic disease. Radioscintigraphy was used to analyze various regions of the gastrointestinal tract; scans were obtained at 2, 4, 6, and 24 hours after ingestion of a radiolabeled test meal.
Results: Overall, patients with a main complaint of constipation usually had slow or normal gastric, small bowel, and colonic transit, whereas those with diarrhea as the major symptom usually had normal or fast results of these studies. In the 65 patients with no underlying organic disease, inconsistent patterns of gastric emptying and small bowel and colonic transit were noted.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that this 24-hour scintigraphic test may be clinically useful in screening for dysmotility syndromes in patients with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.