The effect of ethanol upon gastric emptying in healthy human subjects was studied by measuring the gastric emptying rates of three 750 ml meals, the osmolalities, energy densities, and pH of which were similar. Meal A, which contained 80 ml alcohol, emptied more rapidly than meal B, which contained 40 ml ethanol and 63.3 g dextrose; and meal B emptied more rapidly than meal C, which contained 126.6 g dextrose but no ethanol. The slower rate of emptying of the dextrose meal (C) was not due to an increased gastric secretory rate, as serial measurements of gastric pH were substantially and significantly higher with this than with the other two meals; nor was it due to a greater degree of duodenogastric reflux, as serial measurements of gastric bile acid concentrations were similar for the three meals. We conclude that the duodenal osmoreceptor mechanism is relatively insensitive to ethanol; that the relationship between energy density and gastric emptying rate does not hold in the case of ethanol; and that the gastro-oesophageal reflux which occurs in response to ethanol is not due to impairment of gastric emptying.
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