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I am having a Gastric Emptying Study sometime soon to rule out gastroparesis. Can anyone explain how this works.

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  • Posted

    Hi David

    It depends on the individual hospital. Essentially, they get you to eat a meal that has a substance added to it which enables them to measure how quickly the food moves through your stomach.

    There is a breath test version where after eating the food you blow into plastic 'bags' every 30 minutes for 4 hours. As you digest the meal, the substance is released into your breath and they can measure it. The bags are sent off after your test to be examined/measured. You have to note symptoms on a questionnaire and also detail water consumption during this test and are only allowed a little water as it can interfere with the test.

    The other type of GES is measured via x-ray. They can pick up the substance you eat within the meal on x-ray pictures and actually visually see the passage of the meal through your digestive system. X-rays are, I think, taken at 30 minute intervals for either 2 or 4 hours. They can measure the percentage of the meal that you have digested within that time. The 4 hour version is more accurate.

    The meals are typically some kind of cooked egg in bread concoction or porridge/Ready Brek.

    Hope this helps

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  • Posted

    Our gastric emptying study was surely not an x-ray follow through and I have not heard of x-rays for a gastric emptying study.

    (Yes, barium meal small bowel follow through would be x-ray checks, but that's not a gastric emptying study. Also colon transit study (swallow some 0-rings) is followed through with x-rays since both: barium and o-rings are not emitting energy, but can be seen passively by x-rays. In a gastric emptying study you usually swallow the emiting tracer that leaves a picture on the 'photo' plate, don't need to be x-rayed actively.)

    Our gastric emptying study (and you see if it is that one by simply looking, which departemnt you got referred to):

    was at a nuclear med department.

    My daughter got egg (solid food) and milk (liquid food) but no water (liquid pure) (make sure whatever the carrier food is, that you are not allergic to the food or intolerant to, some get meat, all a no go for vegans, there are other carriers possible...we did not ring up prior as she was fine with any food.)

    with each a different very low dose tracer in it. Very low dose radioactivty, nothing to fear, also small half time value.

    Then every 30min she lay flat under a counter trying not to vomit

    (which was not an emitting x-ray machine at all)

    to see where the food was since the small amount of tracer in food itself emits the signal, a picture, maybe you get a glance at it, two different clouds of food somewhere in the stomach or already half emptyied into intestine.

    Since she was in the pediatric department unfortunatly the study was finished after 2 hours, it should usually be done over 4 hours since some people empty completely after 4 hours, but not in 2 hours and would be still normal.

    It doesn't hurt,

    it doesn't interfere,

    you just need to make sure the food you get is something you can cope with, the tracer itself will not make you sick.

    Have a look, but I guess you will be doing a nuclear med study.

    Good luck!


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  • Posted

    Hi David, I had one taken last week. Just ate an hardboiled egg and then would like down while the x-rays are above your stomach. You can pretty much watch what's happening. The food is supposed to digest within 90 minutes, but if there is still food when you're done with the test, you know you may have gastroparesis. I'm finding what helps most are saltine crackers, avocados, pudding, chicken w/rice soup and I'm now on reglan, which helps. I sure hope you don't have this, as it can be painful. If you need it, use prune juice vs laxatives. So much easier on you! This problem does eventually go away, but has a tendency to recur. Keep us posted...Good luck! Oh, and no IV or needles of any sort.

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