Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 109–115 | Cite as

Inter- and intrasubject variability of solid and liquid gastric emptying parameters

A scintigraphic study in healthy subjects and diabetic patients
  • S. Lartigue
  • Y. Bizais
  • S. Bruley des Varannes
  • A. Murat
  • B. Pouliquen
  • J. P. Galmiche
Original Article


This study was performed to assess: (1) the inter- and intrasubject variability of gastric emptying measurements by a scintigraphic method in 12 healthy subjects and 14 diabetic patients, and (2) the reproducibility of diagnosis of either the presence or absence of gastroparesis. To address this issue, radiolabeled solid-liquid meals were ingested by all subjects on two separate days. High intersubject variability of gastric emptying measurements was shown in both populations. Intrasubject variability was higher in diabetic patients than in healthy subjects. However, there was no significant difference between the means of any parameters obtained on two separate days. The reproducibility of the diagnosis of gastroparesis was excellent for all parameters; the solid half emptying time was the most reproducible parameter (92% in healthy subjects and 93% in diabetic patients). The means ±sd of the difference between the two separate days' half emptying time results were −10.6±41.3 min for solids and −4.8±36.6 min for liquids and were not statistically different from zero. Only one difference between the half emptying time results on two separate days was not in the 95% confidence interval for both solids and liquids; however, this result came from a diabetic patient with obvious gastroparesis on both days. Thus: (1) in spite of high inter- and intrasubject variability, the scintigraphic method of measuring gastric emptying is highly reproducible for the diagnosis of gastroparesis; (2) reproducibility is better in healthy subjects than in diabetic patients; and (3) the knowledge of intrasubject variability allows assessment of the required sample sizes for pharmacological studies using prokinetic medications.

Key words

gastric emptying scintigraphy intersubject variability intrasubject variability reproducibility 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Brophy CM, Moore JG, Christian PE, Egger MJ, Taylor AT: Variability of gastric emptying measurements in man employing standardized radiolabeled meals. Dig Dis Sci 31:799–806, 1986PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Collins PJ, Horowitz M, Cook DJ, Harding PE: Gastric emptying in normal subjects—a reproductible technique using a single scintillation camera and computer system. Gut 24:1117–1125, 1983PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Scarpignato C: Gastric emptying measurement in man.In Clinical Investigation of Gastric Function. C Scarpignato, G Biancho Porro (eds). Basel, Karger, 1990, pp 198–246Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chaudhuri TK, Greenwald AJ, Heading RC, Chaudhuri TK: A new radioisotopic technic for the measurement of gastric emptying of solid meal. Am J Gastroenterol 65:46–51, 1976PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hamilton SG, Sheiner HJ, Quinlan MF: Continuous monitoring of the effect of pentagastrin on gastric emptying of solid food in man. Gut 17:273–279, 1976PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Heading RC, Tothill P, Loughlin GP, Shearman JC: Gastric emptying rate measurement in man. A double isotope scanning technique for simultaneous study of liquid and solid components of a meal. Gastroenterology 71:45–50, 1976PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Scarpello JHB, Barber DC, Hague RV, Cullen DR, Sladen GE: Gastric emptying of solid meals in diabetics. Br Med J 2:671–673, 1976PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sheiner HJ, Quinlan MF, Thompson IJ: Gastric motility and emptying in normal and post-vagotomy subjects. Gut 21:753–759, 1980PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Baldi F, Corinaldesi R, Ferrarini F, Stanghellini V, Miglioli M, Barbara L: Gastric secretion and emptying of liquids in reflux esophagitis. Dig Dis Sci 26:886–889, 1981PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Carryer PW, Brown ML, Malagelada JR, Carlson GL, McCall JT: Quantification of the fate of dietary fiber in humans by a newly developed radiolabeled fiber marker. Gastroenterology 82:1389–1394, 1982PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Wright RA, Krinsky S, Fleeman C, Trujillo J, Teague E: Gastric emptying and obesity. Gastroenterology 84:747–751, 1983PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Loo FD, Palmer DW, Soergel KH, Kalbfleisch JH, Wood CM: Gastric emptying in patients with diabetes mellitus. Gastroenterology 86:485–494, 1984PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kroop HS, Long WB, Alavi A, Hansell JR: Effect of water and fat on gastric emptying of solid meals. Gastroenterology 77:997–1000, 1979.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jian R, Vigneron N, Najean Y, Bernier JJ: Gastric emptying and intragastric distribution of lipids in man. A new scintigraphic method of study. Dig Dis Sci 27:705–711, 1982PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Elashoff JD, Reedy TJ, Meyer JH: Analysis of gastric emptying data. Gastroenterology 83:1307–1312, 1982Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Siegel JA, Wu RK, Knight LC, Zelac RE, Stern HS, Malmud LS: Radiation dose estimates for oral agents used in upper gastrointestinal disease: J. Nucl Med 24:835–837, 1983PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Bland JM, Altman DG: Statistical methods for assessing agreement between two methods of clinical measurements. Lancet 8:307–310, 1986Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Lartigue
    • 1
  • Y. Bizais
    • 1
  • S. Bruley des Varannes
    • 1
  • A. Murat
    • 1
  • B. Pouliquen
    • 1
  • J. P. Galmiche
    • 1
  1. 1.From the Laboratoire “Fonctions Digestives et Nutrition”CHU NordNantes CedexFrance

Personalised recommendations