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Biphasic nature of gastric emptying.
  1. J A Siegel,
  2. J L Urbain,
  3. L P Adler,
  4. N D Charkes,
  5. A H Maurer,
  6. B Krevsky,
  7. L C Knight,
  8. R S Fisher,
  9. L S Malmud
  1. Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA 19140.


    The existence of a lag phase during the gastric emptying of solid foods is controversial. It has been hypothesised that among other early events, the stomach requires a period of time to process solid food to particles small enough to be handled as a liquid. At present no standardised curve fitting techniques exist for the characterisation and quantification of the lag phase or the emptying rate of solids and liquids. We have evaluated the ability of a modified power exponential function to define the emptying parameters of two different solid meals. Dual labelled meals were administered to 24 normal volunteers. The subjects received meals consisting of either Tc-99m in vivo labelled chicken liver or Tc-99m-egg, which have different densities, and In-111-DTPA in water. The emptying curves were biphasic in nature. For solids, this represented an initial delay in emptying or lag phase followed by an equilibrium emptying phase characterised by a constant rate of emptying. The curves were analysed using a modified power exponential function of the form y(t) = 1-(1-e-kt)beta, where y(t) is the fractional meal retention at time t, k is the gastric emptying rate in min-1, and beta is the extrapolated y-intercept from the terminal portion of the curve. The length of the lag phase and half-emptying time increased with solid food density (31 +/- 8 min and 77.6 +/- 11.2 min for egg and 62 +/- 16 min and 94.1 +/- 14.2 min for chicken liver, respectively). After the lag phase, both solids had similar emptying rates, and these rates were identical to those of the liquids. In vitro experiments indicated that the egg meal disintegrated much more rapidly than the chicken liver under mechanical agitation in gastric juice, lending further support to the hypothesis that the initial lag in emptying of solid food is due to the processing of food into particles small enough to pass the pylorus. We conclude that the modified power exponential model permits characterisation of the biphasic nature of gastric emptying allowing for quantification of the lag phase and the rate of emptying for both solids and liquids.

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