Determining small intestinal transit time and pathomorphology in critically ill patients using video capsule technology

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Gastrointestinal motility can be impaired by serious illness or medications, compromising enteral feeding in critical care patients. We compared small bowel transit time and morphology in neurosurgical critical care (ICU) patients with those in healthy subjects.


We evaluated small intestinal transit time, quality of visualization and intestinal morphology in 16 ICU patients (Glasgow Coma Scale score from 6 to 14) and 16 healthy ambulatory patients. Video data were obtained with PillCam SB capsules (Given Imaging Ltd., Yoqneam, Israel).


Transit time was 5.1 h (3.9–7.7) (median [IQR]) in ICU and 4.3 (4.1–5.3 h) in ambulatory patients (P = 0.481). Six ICU patients (37%) and two ambulatory patients (12%) had pathological findings (ulcers, petechia, erosions) (P = 0.10).


Median small bowel transit times in critically ill neurosurgical patients were similar to those in ambulatory subjects, although transit times were more variable in the critically ill patients.

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