The 1-hour serum xylose (surface area corrected) as an indication of xylose absorption after 5 g oral D-xylose has been compared with the 5-hour urine excretion test in a tropical population. The study confirmed that the peak serum xylose concentration occurs at 1 hour and that correction to a constant body surface are improves the discrimination between subjects with normal and impaired xylose absorption. The significantly lower reference range for the 1-hour surface area corrected serum xylose (0.55-1.11 mmol/l) compared to the UK figure reflects the reduced absorptive capacity of the jejunum, a result of tropical enteropathy. In view of the difficulties in obtaining accurate urine collections in tropical countries, especially in field studies, it is recommended that the 1-hour serum xylose (surface area corrected) should be adopted as the standard test of xylose absorption.
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