European Radiology

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 1579–1587 | Cite as

Measurement of oro-caecal transit time by magnetic resonance imaging

  • Edoardo Savarino
  • Vincenzo Savarino
  • Mark Fox
  • Giovanni Di Leo
  • Manuele Furnari
  • Elisa Marabotto
  • Lorenzo Gemignani
  • Luca Bruzzone
  • Alessandro Moscatelli
  • Chiara De Cassan
  • Francesco Sardanelli
  • Luca Maria Sconfienza



To assess prospectively the agreement of orocaecal transit time (OCTT) measurements by lactulose hydrogen breath test (LHBT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in healthy subjects.


Volunteers underwent abdominal 1.5-T MRI using axial and coronal single-shot fast-spin-echo T2-weighted sequences, having fasted and after lactulose ingestion (10 g/125 mL). Imaging and H2 excretion gas-chromatography were performed concurrently every 15 min up to 180 min. MR images were analyzed using semiautomatic segmentation to calculate small bowel gas volume (SBGV) and visually to detect bolus arrival in the caecum. Agreement between MRI- and LHBT-OCTT was assessed.


Twenty-eight subjects (17 men/11 women; mean age ± standard deviation 30 ± 8 years) were evaluated. Two H2 non-producers on LHBT were excluded. OCTT measured by MRI and LHBT was concordant in 18/26 (69 %) subjects (excellent agreement, k = 0.924). Median SBGV was 49.0 mL (interquartile interval 44.1 – 51.6 mL). In 8/26 (31 %) subjects, MRI showed that the lactulose bolus was in the terminal ileum and not the caecum when H2E increased on LHBT. Median OCTT measured by MRI was significantly longer than OCTT measured by LHBT [135 min (120 – 150 min) vs. 127.5 min (105 – 150 min); p = 0.008]. Above baseline levels, correlation between [H2] and SBGV was significant (r = 0.964; p < 0.001).


MRI provides valid measurements of OCTT and gas production in the small bowel.

Key Points

MRI is a valid technique to measure OCTT.

Excellent agreement between MRI and LHBT was found.

Measuring gas production using MRI may provide evidence of small bowel fermentation.


Magnetic resonance imaging Small bowel Lactulose hydrogen breath test Orocaecal transit time Irritable bowel syndrome 



The scientific guarantor of this publication is Luca Maria Sconfienza, MD PhD. The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies, whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article. The authors state that this work has not received any funding. One of the authors has significant statistical expertise. Institutional review board approval was obtained. Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects in this study. Methodology: prospective diagnostic, performed at one institution.


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edoardo Savarino
    • 1
  • Vincenzo Savarino
    • 2
  • Mark Fox
    • 3
  • Giovanni Di Leo
    • 4
  • Manuele Furnari
    • 2
  • Elisa Marabotto
    • 2
  • Lorenzo Gemignani
    • 2
  • Luca Bruzzone
    • 2
  • Alessandro Moscatelli
    • 2
  • Chiara De Cassan
    • 1
  • Francesco Sardanelli
    • 4
    • 5
  • Luca Maria Sconfienza
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Surgical, Oncological and Gastroenterological SciencesPaduaItaly
  2. 2.Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of GenoaGenoaItaly
  3. 3.NIHR Biomedical Research Unit, Nottingham Digestive Diseases CentreQueen’s Medical CenterNottinghamUK
  4. 4.Servizio di RadiologiaIRCCS Policlinico San DonatoSan Donato MilaneseItaly
  5. 5.Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche per la SaluteUniversità degli Studi di MilanoSan Donato MilaneseItaly

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