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Little is known about the gastric effects of spinal cord injury (SCI). There have been few studies on the gastric emptying half-time (GET1/2) of SCI patients and the studies that have been done have varying results. The rate and completeness of gastric emptying (GE) are major determinants of the bioavailability of oral medication and supplementation. Researchers in Taiwan recently studied the GET1/2 of solid meals in SCI patients by radionuclide imaging.

This prospective study was conducted on 50 SCI patients. There were 28 patients under the age of 40 years. Twenty of the subjects were female and 30 male. Twenty-four had an injury classified as high level, while the remaining 26 patients had low-level injuries. Twenty-two of the patients were injured within the past year. The SCI patients were matched for age, weight, and gender with 28 healthy, ambulatory control subjects. All participants underwent the same imaging technique with the same food to evaluate the normal limit of GET1/2.

The standard meal consisted of two fried eggs mixed with 500 [micro]Ci [[sup.99m]Tc] phytate, placed between two pieces of toast to form a sandwich. The total meal contained 312 kcal with 28% of calories from protein, 15% fat, and 57% carbohydrate. All subjects were to eat the meal within five minutes.

GET1/2 was found to be abnormal in 29 of the 50 SCI patients. The higher incidences of abnormality were with the older, female, high level injury, and long duration of injury patients. The younger male patients with lower levels of injury for a shorter duration did not have as significant of an abnormality in GET 1/2. The incidence of abnormality in female SCI patients and high level injury patients were significantly higher than in male patients and low level injury patients. This finding was comparable with the findings of previous studies.

Prolonged gastric emptying is likely to occur in SCI patients. Special attention should be paid to the female patients and the patients with a high level of injury because of their increased incidence of prolonged gastric emptying. In is imperative that this is taken into consideration when prescribing orally administered medications and dietary supplementation.

Chia-Hung Kao, Yung-Jen Ho, Sheng-Ping Changlai, Hueisch-JY Ding, Gastric Emptying in Spinal Cord Injury Patients, Digestive Diseases and Sciences 44(8): 1512-1515 (August 1999) [Correspondence: Chia-Hung Kao, MD, Dept. of Nuclear Medicine, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, 160 Taichung Harbor Rd., Section 3, Taichung 40705, Taiwan.]
COPYRIGHT 1999 Technical Insights, a divison of John Wiley & Sons.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

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