Gastroparesis

What is Gastroparesis?

It can be thought of as having a weak or sluggish stomach where food remains in the stomach for longer than normal periods after eating. It is associated with conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease and medications which slow down the gut such as opiates.

Esophagus

Stomach

Intestine

What are the symptoms Gastroparesis?

  • Getting full very easily
  • Not being able to eat the usual amount of food
  • Bloating
  • Acid reflux
  • Abdominal pain

How is Gastroparesis diagnosed?

There are a few tests available. However, a gastric emptying study is most commonly ordered. It is a nuclear medicine test performed in a radiologist’s office and usually includes eating a meal such as oatmeal or scrambled eggs which has been tagged with a special mildly radioactive tag that can be measured with a special camera. Images are taken of your stomach at the beginning of the test, at 2 hours into the test and at 4 hours into testing to see how much of the food is still present inside.

How is Gastroparesis treated?

Dietary changes are the first line of treatment, and it is usually recommended that patients with gastroparesis eat small, frequent meals low in fat and fiber since these foods take the longest amounts of time to leave the stomach. If symptoms continue despite changes in the diet, there are also medications which help the stomach move foods out into the intestines which are known as prokinetics.