This study investigated the hypothesis that some features of functional gastrointestinal disorders may be associated with abnormalities of ileocaecal transit by measuring ileocaecal transit using a scintigraphic technique in 43 patients with chronic constipation, 20 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and 18 control subjects. Subjects ingested enteric coated capsules, which delivered 111-indium radionuclide to the distal ileum. Gammacamera images were acquired at hourly intervals until caecal filling was complete. Ileocaecal transit was defined as the time between peak scintigraphic activity in the terminal ileum and peak activity in the caecum. The mean (SD) ileocaecal transit of 103 (50) minutes in patients with IBS was significantly faster than that in control subjects (mean (SD) ileocaecal transit 174 (78) minutes, p < 0.002). There were no significant differences in ileocaecal transit between patients with chronic idiopathic constipation and the control subjects, or between patients with constipation predominant and diarrhoea predominant IBS. This study developed a practical scintigraphic method of measuring ileocaecal transit. The rapid ileocaecal transit in both the constipation and diarrhoea predominant forms of IBS suggests that bloating may not after all result from delayed ileal emptying.
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