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Spinal Cord. 2012 Jan;50(1):81-4. doi: 10.1038/sc.2011.92. Epub 2011 Aug 30.

SmartPill technology provides safe and effective assessment of gastrointestinal function in persons with spinal cord injury.

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  • 1VA RR&D Center of Excellence for the Medical Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury, James J Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bronx, NY 10468, USA.



Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in gastrointestinal (GI) complications, including gastroesophageal reflux disease and constipation, but much of the data is based on older technology.


GI transit times were determined in subjects with SCI using a new device called a SmartPill. Our principal goal was to assess whether this new technology can be applied in persons with SCI.


SCI and age- and gender-matched able-bodied (AB) control subjects not taking proton pump inhibitors were studied. Following an 8-h overnight fast, subjects consumed 120 g EggBeaters (60 kcal), two slices of white bread (120 kcal) and 30 g strawberry jam (74 kcal). A pH calibrated SmartPill capsule was swallowed with 8 ounces of water, after which subjects fasted for an additional 6 h prior to consuming an Ensure Plus nutrition shake (350 kcal). Subjects remained fasted for an additional 2 h, after which time they resumed their regular diets.


Twenty subjects with SCI and 10 AB control subjects were studied. Data are expressed as mean±s.d. Comparing the group with SCI to the AB control group, gastric emptying time (GET), colonic transit time (CTT) and whole gut transit time (WGTT) were prolonged (GET: 10.6±7.2 vs 3.5±1.0 h, P<0.01; CTT: 52.3±42.9 vs 14.2±7.6 h, P=0.01; WGTT: 3.3±2.5 vs 1.0±0.7 days, P<0.01). No complications or side effects were reported.


Our results indicate that the SmartPill technology is a safe, non-invasive assessment technique that provides valid diagnostic information in persons with SCI.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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