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Other GI Testing Procedures

By Walter W. Chan, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine; Director, Center for Gastrointestinal Motility, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Endoscopy, Harvard Medical School; Brigham and Women's Hospital

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Patient Education

Breath tests

Breath tests typically involve ingestion of a substrate that is then metabolized by GI bacteria or digestive enzymes. The metabolites of the ingested substrate are then measured in the exhaled breath of the patient.

Various breath tests help diagnose conditions such as


Electrogastrography measures gastric electrical activity with adhesive cutaneous electrodes. This procedure is useful in patients with gastroparesis.

Wireless capsule motility

Wireless capsule motility involves an ingestible device that continuously measures the pressure and pH of the intraluminal environment as the device travels through the GI tract. It allows the measurement of transit time, pressure profile, and motility of the entire GI tract and individual regions (stomach, small intestine, colon). This procedure can help assess gastric emptying as well as small-bowel and colonic transit in patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of dysmotility.