We simultaneously recorded gastric emptying of radio-opaque markers (ROMs) and monitored serial changes in plasma acetaminophen (AAP) levels to demonstrate the relationship between the ROM and the AAP methods, and we investigated the effect of a single intravenous dose of erythromycin (EM) on gastric emptying in healthy human subjects. After an overnight fast, subjects were randomized to receive either placebo or EM lactobionate (Abbott, North Chicago, IL, USA) 250 mg intravenously in a single dose, given immediately before a standard meal. Subjects ingested 1.5 g of AAP and ROMs with the test meal. A supine plain abdominal radiograph was taken 1, 2, 3, and 6 h after ingestion of the test meal. Peripheral blood samples were obtained 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 3, and 6 h after ingestion of the test meal. EM significantly accelerated gastric emptying of ROMs. By 6 h, no markers remained in the stomach in any of the subjects in the placebo or EM groups. By 120 min, half of the ROMs had passed into the duodenum in 12.5% of subjects after placebo, whereas EM injection resulted in gastric emptying of half of the ROMs in all subjects. There was no difference in plasma AAP concentration between the placebo and EM groups. There were significant correlations between maximum plasma AAP concentration and gastric emptying of ROMs 120 min after ingestion (r = 0.546; P = 0.019), and between time of maximum plasma AAP concentration and gastric emptying of ROMs 120 min after ingestion (r = -0.568; P = 0.014). The time taken to reach the peak concentrations ranged from 30 to 90 min after ingestion, whereas most ROMs were emptied 120 min after ingestion. We conclude that the gastric emptying assessed by ROMs and by serial changes in plasma AAP level are good, non-invasive, clinically applicable tests, with a significant correlation between the two tests. A single intravenous dose of EM had a prokinetic effect on gastric emptying, assessed by ROMs, in healthy human subjects.
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