The influence of the type and size of solid particles on their emptying from the stomach was studied using isotopically labelled chicken liver and inert particles in normal subjects and in patients who had undergone gastric surgery. In normal subjects, initial emptying of the liver was slower than that of inert particles both for large liver cubes (1 cm) and small cubes (0.3 cm). Liver emptying subsequently accelerated to be faster than emptying of the inert particles. Overall emptying of the liver given as small cubes was faster than large cubes; 50% emptied in 50 minutes and 70 minutes respectively. In the postoperative subjects, emptying of the liver and of the inert particles was identical. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that solid foods such as liver are ground down and 'liquified' by the action of gastric peristalsis before being discharged to the duodenum. Ingested particle size appears to influence the rapidity of this process, which should be distinguished from the propulsive function of the stomach where small solid particles are concerned.
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