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Lancet. 1994 Apr 23;343(8904):998-1000.

A simple, non-invasive marker of gastric damage: sucrose permeability.

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GI Research Group, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Disaccharides do not cross intact gastrointestinal mucosa to any appreciable extent unless there is damage to the epithelium. Furthermore, since sucrose is rapidly broken down in the small intestine, the absorption of intact sucrose implies damage to proximal epithelium. We have reported that measurement of sucrose permeability detects gastric damage in animals. Whilst such a non-specific test could not replace endoscopy, it might represent a clinically useful technique to identify patients who would benefit from endoscopy. 189 patients underwent endoscopy and assessment of sucrose permeability to evaluate the effectiveness of increased sucrose permeability in the prediction of endoscopic findings. The endoscopist was blinded to results of the sucrose assay. Gastric damage, particularly ulcers and severe gastritis, was successfully detected with this technique. Increased sucrose permeability, however, did not reliably detect mild gastritis, oesophagitis, or duodenal disease. The sensitivity of the test for gastric ulceration was 84% and specificity in predicting an abnormal endoscopy was 96%. Measurement of sucrose permeability is a simple way of screening for gastric damage. It has a sensitivity similar to that for upper gastrointestinal radiology and provides a new way to effectively screen large populations at risk of gastric damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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