Excreted hydrogen analysis was used to measure stomach to caecum transit time of the head of a test meal in 120 rats fed by gavage. Results were compared with the distribution of a labelled test meal in the gastrointestinal tract of rats killed at different time intervals after gavage. Values for stomach to caecum transit were compatible with the distribution of labelled meals in 91% of animals, although in the remainder the hydrogen concentration had not risen even though food residues were in the caecum when the animals were killed. The technique gave reproducible results; the coefficients of variation for four studies carried out in each of six animals varied between 4 and 14%. A meal consisting of homogenised baked beans had a significantly shorter stomach to caecum transit time (88.1 +/- 4.5 min; mean +/- SE; n = 21; p less than 0.001) than an equivalent volume of Complan/lactulose (180.9 +/- 8.7 min; n = 13). This technique was used to investigate the effect of ileal infusion of a fat emulsion (20% Intralipid) via a chronically implanted intestinal cannula on the stomach to caecum transit time of a bean meal, in a series of paired studies carried out in six rats. Stomach to caecum transit time was significantly delayed during ileal infusion of 20% Intralipid compared with the control infusion of an isotonic saline solution (218.3 +/- 21 min v 106.7 +/- 33 min Intralipid v saline; n = 6; p less than 0.001).
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