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Research Article

Small intestinal transit in diabetics.

Br Med J 1976; 2 doi: (Published 20 November 1976) Cite this as: Br Med J 1976;2:1225
  1. J H Scarpello,
  2. M Greaves,
  3. G E Sladen


    Small intestinal transit was assessed in diabetic patients and healthy controls by measuring the breath hydrogen appearance time after the ingestion of lactulose. Transit in diabetics with autonomic neuropathy was significantly slower than in diabetics without neuropathy and controls. Delayed transit is probably due to vagal denervation. These slower transit times would allow bacteria to proliferate, which might explain why some diabetics have diarrhoea. The test cannot be used in patients with bacteria in the small bowel because these may metabolise lactulose and release hydrogen prematurely.