Gastric emptying of a light hospital breakfast. A study using real time ultrasonography

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 1996 May;40(5):549-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.1996.tb04486.x.


While intake of clear fluids 2-3 h before surgery is considered safe as it does not influence gastric content, it is not known if the same applies to a light breakfast meal. We therefore studied gastric emptying of a light breakfast in healthy, female volunteers without evidence of gastrointestinal motility disorders. The test meal consisted of one slice of buttered toast with jam, one cup of coffee without milk or sugar and one glass of pulp-free orange juice taken together with a paracetamol mixture. Using gastric ultrasonography, the stomach was identified without problems in all subjects, and gastric emptying curves using changes in gastric antral area and serum-paracetamol were obtained. Emptying of the fluid phase started immediately after intake of the meal. All subjects had solid particles in the stomach 120 min after the meal, 3 patients were considered empty after 180 min, 6 after 210 min and all after 240 min. The gastric antral area returned to fasting value significantly faster than the disappearance of solid particles; median 150 min versus 210 min; P = 0.01. Our results show that in healthy subjects the stomach cannot be considered empty for solid particles the first 4 h after a light breakfast meal. To secure some safety limits, we suggest a 6-h mandatory preoperative fast after a light breakfast.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / pharmacokinetics
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / pharmacokinetics
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Food*
  • Gastric Emptying*
  • Humans
  • Preoperative Care
  • Stomach / diagnostic imaging*
  • Time Factors
  • Ultrasonography


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Acetaminophen