Background : Modern medical imaging modalities can trace labelled oral drug dosage forms in the gastrointestinal tract, and thus represent important tools for the evaluation of their in vivo performance. The application of gastric-retentive drug delivery systems to improve bioavailability and to avoid unwanted plasma peak concentrations of orally administered drugs is of special interest in clinical and pharmaceutical research.

Aim : To determine the influence of meal composition and timing of tablet administration on the intragastric performance of a gastric-retentive floating tablet using magnetic resonance imaging in the sitting position.

Methods : A tablet formulation was labelled with iron oxide particles as negative magnetic resonance contrast marker to allow the monitoring of the tablet position in the food-filled human stomach. Labelled tablet was administered, together with three different solid meals, to volunteers seated in a 0.5-T open-configuration magnetic resonance system. Volunteers were followed over a 4-h period.

Results : Labelled tablet was detectable in all subjects throughout the entire study. The tablet showed persistent good intragastric floating performance independent of meal composition. Unfavourable timing of tablet administration had a minor effect on the intragastric tablet residence time and floating performance.

Conclusion : Magnetic resonance imaging can reliably monitor and analyse the in vivo performance of labelled gastric-retentive tablets in the human stomach.