Applied potential tomography (APT) is a new, non-invasive technique that can yield sequential images of changes in the resistivity of gastric contents. Studies were performed to investigate the application of APT to measure gastric acid secretion. Experiments in 20 normal volunteers showed that changes in gastric resistivity were closely correlated with changes in the volume (r = 0.80), the acidity (r = 0.83) and the total conductivity of gastric contents (r = 0.87). Studies in 13 patients referred for a pentagastrin test showed that changes in gastric resistivity before pentagastrin were closely correlated with basal acid output measured on a separate occasion (r = 0.85, p less than 0.001), while changes in gastric resistivity after pentagastrin were correlated with maximal acid output (r = 0.58, p less than 0.05). Ingestion of alcohol by six normal subjects decreased gastric resistivity markedly, probably due to alcohol induced gastric acid secretion as it was prevented by cimetidine. Applied potential tomography is a safe non-invasive method of measuring gastric acid secretion. The equipment is simple to use, and the test is comfortable and acceptable to patients.
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