Colonic lactulose fermentation induces bloating, but whether it also causes abdominal distension is not known. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of colonic lactulose fermentation on abdominal girth using a new extensometer. We recorded abdominal girth in 24 healthy subjects by means of an extensometer that measures the phase shift of an ultrasound wave propagating in a tube encircling the abdomen. The recordings were continuously made for 3 h after the ingestion of 100 mL of tap water with (16 subjects) or without (eight subjects) 10 g of lactulose. Every 10 min, H2 in the breath was analysed and the intensity of bloating was recorded. Bloating was never reported after water ingestion, whereas it was reported by 10 subjects after lactulose ingestion (P = 0.002). The mean ± SD changes in abdominal girth in comparison with resting conditions were statistically significant after lactulose ingestion (3 ± 2.9 mm; P = 0.002) but not after water ingestion (-0.2 ± 2.7 mm; P = 0.82). The area under the curve of the changes in abdominal girth after lactulose were significantly greater than after water ingestion (P = 0.03). In conclusion, colonic lactulose fermentation induces bloating and abdominal distension. The new extensometer is useful for continuously recording changes in abdominal girth.
- Abdominal distension
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