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Tests of carbohydrate absorption

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

The following investigations test the ability of the small bowel to absorb carbohydrates:

  • xylose absorption test:
    • directly tests the ability to absorb monosaccharides

  • glucose tolerance test:
    • typically flat in impaired small bowel function
    • poor specificity and not widely used

  • disaccharidase test:
    • glucose in the disaccharide is absorbed more slowly than when ingested as a monosaccharide

  • disaccharide breath tests:
    • most commonly lactose is given

  • direct disaccharidase activity tests:
    • enzyme activity may be assessed directly from biopsy samples of mucosa

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