Original Article

Lactase Deficiency in Healthy Korean Adults: Diagnosis by Routine Upper Gastrointestinal Radiolography

Chung-Sik Rhee
Author Information & Copyright
Dept. of Radiology, College of Medicine, Ewha Womans University, Korea.
Corresponding author: Chung-Sik Rhee. Dept. of Radiology, College of Medicine, Ewha Womans University, Korea.

Copyright ⓒ 1979. Ewha Womans University School of Medicine. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jul 24, 2015


The common disaccharides in our diet, lactose, sucrose and maltose, have to be split into monosaccharides by enzymes in the small intestinal epithelial cells. Clinically the most common disaccahridase deficiency encountered is that of lactase. Recently the radiographic method of diagnosing intestinal lactose deficient during consecutive routine upper gastrointestinal examination was assessed. In the present study, we report the results of a clinical study on the incidence of lactase deficiency in a group of healthy Korean adults. The sample group consisted of 50 males and 50 females with a range in age from 20 to 72 years. A total of 100 cases given a colloid barium(100ml) to with 25gm of lactose had been added. The 30 minutes lactose-barium study, evaluated as a screening test. Criterial previously described by Laws et al. were used for the radiographic evaluation. The features used in diagnosis were dilatation of the small bowel, apparent dilution of the barium-lactose mixture in the small intestine, and transit of the mixture to the colon on the 30 minutes film. All three features were required for a diagnosis of lactase deficiency. Of 100 cases, 39% showed all thress findings of lactase deficiency and 31% one or two abnormal findings. Thus, the total incidence of lactase deficiency, complete or partial, as revealed by barium-lactose screening test was 70%. This suggests that environmental factors may be important in the pathogenesis of lactase deficiency in Korean adults.