Gastric emptying of indigestible solids depends on their size. It is not clear whether physical characteristics other than particle size affect emptying of indigestible solids from the fasting human stomach. We studied gastric emptying of three differently shaped particles, (cubes, spheres, rods) of either hard or soft consistency during the fasting state in human volunteers. The shape of indigestible particles did not affect their emptying. The area under the gastric emptying curve (AUC: particles x hour) was for hard cubes 24.7 (2.2), for hard spheres 27.9 (1.6), for hard rods 26.9 (2.7). All soft particles emptied faster than their identically shaped hard counterparts, but there was no difference among the three shapes (AUC for soft cubes: 29.2 (3.0), for soft spheres 32.0 (1.8), for soft rods 34.1 (1.2). If gastric emptying of hard and soft particles was compared independently of their shape, soft particles emptied significantly faster than hard ones: AUC 31.8 (1.2) v 26.5 (1.3) (p less than 0.01). In conclusion, the consistency but not the shape significantly affects gastric emptying. Specific physical characteristics other than size and shape may affect gastric emptying of indigestible particles which may be of importance in the design of drugs.
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