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Pharmacological modulation of gastric emptying rate of solids as measured by the carbon labelled octanoic acid breath test: influence of erythromycin and propantheline.
  1. B D Maes,
  2. M I Hiele,
  3. B J Geypens,
  4. P J Rutgeerts,
  5. Y F Ghoos,
  6. G Vantrappen
  1. Department of Medicine, University Hospital, Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium.


    The *C (13C or 14C) labelled octanoic acid breath test was recently developed to measure the gastric emptying rate of solids. This study aimed to investigate whether it is sensitive enough to detect pharmacologically induced changes in the gastric emptying rate. Nine healthy volunteers were studied in basal condition, after intravenous administration of 200 mg erythromycin, and after peroral administration of 30 mg propantheline. Erythromycin significantly enhanced gastric emptying in all subjects, with an increase of the gastric emptying coefficient (p = 0.0043) in eight of nine and a fall in both the gastric half emptying time (p = 0.0020) and the lag phase (p = 0.0044) in all nine. Propantheline significantly reduced the gastric emptying rate, with a decreased gastric emptying coefficient (p = 0.0007) and an increased gastric half emptying time (p = 0.0168) in all subjects, but no change in the lag phase (p = 0.1214). Further mathematical analysis showed that breath sampling at 15 minutes intervals over a four hour period is recommended to guarantee accuracy and the discriminative value of the breath test in various gastric emptying patterns. In conclusion the *C labelled octanoic acid breath test is sufficiently sensitive to show pharmacologically induced changes of gastric emptying rates of solids.

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      BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Society of Gastroenterology