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Am J Gastroenterol. 1998 Jul;93(7):1108-12.

Gastric emptying in head-injured patients.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taiwan, Republic of China.



Most patients with moderate to severe head injury (HI) initially do not tolerate enteral feedings. Intolerance to nasogastric feeding is also commonly observed after HI. Quantitative measurements of gastric emptying (GE), to determine a possible mechanism for intolerance to enteral feeding, are lacking.


We prospectively evaluated gastric emptying half-time (GET1/2) of liquid meals in 35 patients with moderate to severe HI.


In comparison with 16 age-matched healthy control subjects (29.4 +/- 3.7 min), GET1/2 was significantly prolonged (57.2 +/- 20.8 min, p < 0.05) and abnormal in 80% of the HI patients. A prolonged GET1/2 and higher incidence of abnormal GET1/2 were observed in female patients, older patients, and patients with low Glasgow coma scale (GCS) scores, when compared with male patients, younger patients, and patients with high GCS scores. However, the differences for the means of GET1/2 and the incidences of abnormal GET1/2 between the subgroup patients were not significant (p > 0.05). In addition, significantly prolonged GET1/2 and higher incidence of abnormal GET1/2 (p < 0.05) were observed in patients with short injury duration, in comparison with patients with long injury duration.


Head injury can cause significant prolonged GE of liquid meals, especially in patients with short injury duration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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