The lactulose H2 breath test is in use as a simple non-invasive measurement of mouth to caecum transit time, but its reproducibility has never been assessed. We have examined the reproducibility of mouth to caecum transit time in 21 normal subjects using lactulose 10, 15, and 20 g; seven subjects being studied with 10 g and 12 each with 15 and 20 g doses. Transit time decreased with increasing doses of lactulose although the differences were not significant between or within (n = 5) individuals. Variation in transit times between individuals was considerable with all doses of lactulose (mean coefficient of variation of 18.5, 29.7 and 28.3% with 10, 15, and 20 g respectively). The addition of lactulose to a liquid meal containing carbohydrate, fat, and protein decreased the coefficient of variation to less than 10% in four subjects studied. The lactulose H2 breath test could be made more reproducible by including a liquid meal.
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