What is a Gastric Emptying Study?
A gastric emptying study or test is performed to measure the time that it takes for food to empty out of your stomach. Normally, it takes 1 ½ hours for food to move out of the stomach and into the small intestine after consuming a meal. In cases where the stomach takes longer than this to empty, it is called gastroparesis. When your food stays in your stomach for too long, it can transform into a solid mass called a bezoar, which can lead to blockages. Gastroparesis can also lead to malnutrition. Gastric emptying studies can help patients to receive treatment for this condition before serious complications occur.
Gastroparesis is commonly associated with the following symptoms:
- Abdominal bloating.
- Abdominal pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- A feeling of fullness after a few bites of food.
- Unintentional weight loss.
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The Gastric Emptying Study Procedure
Before your gastric emptying test, our team will provide you with specific preparation instructions. Patients should not drink or eat anything after midnight the day before their test and until after their test is done.
To begin the test, you will be given a light meal to eat, which usually consists of eggs and toast, that will contain a harmless amount of radioactive material known as a tracer. Once you have finished eating, you will lie down on an X-ray table and images will be taken of your abdomen. The tracer will show how the food travels through your stomach. Over the next few hours, more images will be taken to see how long it takes for the food to move out of your stomach and into your gastrointestinal tract. You will be free to get up and leave the exam room between further imaging periods, which usually takes place 1, 2 and 4 hours after the first image was taken.
Your provider will review your results and then share them with you at your next visit. If your results show that it takes longer than normal for your stomach to empty, you may have gastroparesis.
In order to treat gastroparesis, your provider will need to identify and treat the underlying cause. Common treatment methods may include changes to your diet, taking certain medications to stimulate the stomach muscles or surgical treatment.
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At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Gastric Emptying Study or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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