A Stable Isotope Breath Test With a Standard Meal for Abnormal Gastric Emptying of Solids in the Clinic and in Research

Lawrence A. Szarka, Michael Camilleri, Adrian Vella, Duane Burton, Kari Baxter, Julie Simonson, Alan R. Zinsmeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: The aim of this study was to validate a [13C]-Spirulina platensis gastric emptying (GE) breath test (GEBT) with a standardized meal. Methods: Thirty-eight healthy volunteers and 129 patients with clinically suspected delayed GE underwent measurements at 45, 90, 120, 150, 180, and 240 minutes after a 238 kcal meal labeled test with 100 mg [13C]-S platensis and 0.5 mCi 99mTc. We established normal ranges for scintigraphy with this test meal, intraindividual and interindividual coefficients of variation (COVs), and the ability of the [13C] GEBT breath percent dose excreted *1000 values to predict scintigraphic half-life and to categorize GE as delayed, normal, or accelerated. Results: In health, the 10th and 90th percentiles of half-life for scintigraphic GE with this meal were 52 and 86 minutes; intraindividual COVs for scintigraphy and the GEBT were, respectively, 31% and 27% at 45 minutes, 17% and 21% at 90 minutes, 13% and 16% at 120 minutes, 10% and 13% at 150 minutes, and 8% and 12% at 180 minutes. Interindividual COVs at each time for the [13C] GEBT and scintigraphy were typically ∼1%-4% lower than intraindividual COVs. Individual breath samples at 45, 150, and 180 minutes predicted GE category; at 80% specificity, 45- and 180-minute samples combined were 93% sensitive to identify accelerated GE, and 150- and 180-minute combined were 89% sensitive for delayed GE. Conclusions: [13C]-S platensis GEBT is as reproducible as scintigraphy; imprecision with both tests reflects physiologic variation. With 4 breath samples, this method with an off-the-shelf meal is valid to assess GE in clinic and in research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-643.e1
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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