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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 11, Issue 4, Pages 317-321
Clinical Gastroenterology

National Survey of Radionuclide Gastric Emptying Studies

A House,1 MC Champion,2 and M Chamerlain

1Department of Medicine, Ottawa General Hospital, Canada
2Departments of Medicine and Nuclear Medicine, Ottawa Civic Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Received 28 October 1996; Accepted 20 February 1997

Copyright © 1997 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A survey was mailed to all institutions in Canada licensed to use radiopharmaceuticals. Questions addressed meal type; mode of preparation; and means, ranges and SD of emptying times. Seventy-eight per cent of 222 facilities responded, including all 55 teaching centres. Eighty-five per cent of teaching and 56% of nonteaching centres perform solid phase gastric emptying studies (GES). The majority use 99mTc sulphur colloid (Tc-SC) added to eggs before cooking as the standard meal. Twenty-five per cent of teaching and 21% of nonteaching centres perform liquid phase GES. Most use a watery solution of 111In-diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid. Gastric emptying for solid phase GES, expressed as time for 50% emptying (mean t½), varied from 42 to 105 mins for centres using the Tc-SC egg meal. Twenty-eight per cent of teaching centres used ±2 SD to define their normal range, 26% used ±1 SD, 6% used ±1.5 SD, and 40% did not know the number of SD used. Twenty per cent of non-teaching centres used ±2 SD, 12% used ±1 SD and 68% did not know how many SD were used. For liquid phase GES, mean t½ varied from 20 to 60 mins. Eighteen per cent of centres used healthy volunteers to establish or validate normal ranges. There is substantial variability among the normal ranges for radionuclide solid and liquid phase GES in both teaching and nonteaching centres across Canada. A minority of facilities have established or validated their own normal ranges in healthy volunteers. There is a need for a more standardized protocol and range of normal, with internal validation by each institution.