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Bowel Transit Time

How To Prepare

Tell your doctor if you are or might be pregnant before having this test.

You may need to change your diet for a few days before having this test. You may also need to stop taking medicines for a short time before having a bowel transit time test. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and nonprescription medicines you are taking.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

Your doctor will give you one or more gel capsules filled with markers that will show up on an X-ray. Follow your doctor's instructions about when to take the capsules. You may take only one capsule. Or you may be told to take one at a certain time for 2 or 3 days in a row. You will then have X-rays taken of your belly. These are usually done on day 5. The percentage of markers that show up on the X-ray tells your doctor if you have a normal bowel transit time.

How It Feels

Bowel transit time tests do not cause pain.

You will not feel discomfort from the X-rays used for the test. The X-ray table may feel hard and the room may be cool. You may find that the positions you need to hold are uncomfortable.

Risks

This test is not recommended if you are pregnant because the radiation from the X-ray can harm your developing baby (fetus).

Results

A bowel transit time test measures how long it takes for food to travel through the digestive tract camera.gif.

Bowel transit time depends on what types of food you eat and how much you drink. Different people have different bowel transit times.

Bowel transit time 1
Normal:

Fewer than 20% of the markers show up on an X-ray after 5 days (120 hours).

Slowed:

More than 20% of the markers show up on an X-ray after 5 days (120 hours).

 

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 07, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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