The 13C-octanoic acid breath test has been correlated significantly to radioscintigraphy for measurement of gastric emptying indices in healthy horses. The objective of this study was to investigate the validity of the test for measurement of equine delayed gastric emptying, prior to its potential clinical application for this purpose. A model of atropine-induced gastroparesis was used. Gastric emptying rate was measured twice in 8 horses using concurrent radioscintigraphy and/or breath test after treatment i.v. with either atropine (0.035 mg/kg bwt) or saline in randomised order.
Analysis of both data sets demonstrated that the atropine treatment had caused a significant delay in gastric emptying rate. Paired breath test data showed an atropine-induced delay in gastric half-emptying time (t1/2), with no overlap in the 99% CI range (P<0.001). Significant correlations were found between scintigraphy and 13C-octanoic acid breath test for calculation of both t1/2 (P<0.01) and lag phase duration (P<0.05) in the atropine-delayed emptying results. The mean (s.d.) bias in breath test t1/2 when compared with scintigraphy was 1.78 (0.58) h.
The results demonstrated that the 13C-octanoic acid breath test was an effective diagnostic modality for the measurement of equine delayed gastric emptying. The technique offers advantages to existing methods for clinical investigation, as it is noninvasive, not radioactive, quantitative and requires minimal equipment or training to perform.