disorders, such as
Parkinson’s disease or
Gastroparesis (also called delayed gastric emptying) is a condition
involving impaired motility function in the stomach. Normally, nerves
and muscles in the stomach work properly to move digested food down into
the intestines. In people with gastroparesis, digested food moves slowly
or stops moving through the digestive tract.
People with diabetes, particularly type 1 diabetes, are at risk for
developing gastroparesis, but there are other causes. In many cases, the
cause is unknown.
Symptoms of gastroparesis include upper abdominal pain, nausea, feeling
full after eating only a few bites, bloating, vomiting, and weight loss.
If food lingers too long, it can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria. Food
also can harden, forming potentially dangerous blockages.
Gastroparesis usually is suspected based on a person’s symptoms and
physical examination findings. Blood tests, imaging studies, motility
studies, and endoscopic procedures may be performed to confirm the
diagnosis and rule out other possible causes for delayed gastric
emptying. Specialized diagnostic tools used at Lankenau Medical Center
Wireless capsule motility testing (SmartPill).
This relatively new technology involves the use of a
capsule-sized device to evaluate motility function within the
digestive tract. The device is swallowed and travels through the
digestive tract, transmitting information about pressure, pH,
and transit times for each segment of the digestive tract and
the system overall. A data recorder, worn on a belt, collects
the information. The device is excreted in a bowel movement.
Gastric emptying study. This radiologic test is
used to measure how quickly and completely food empties from the
stomach. A small meal is eaten that contains a small amount of
radioactive material, and then an external scan is used to track
the radioactive material as it moves through the digestive
Gastroparesis cannot be cured. Treatment approaches include:
Dietary changes. Symptoms may be improved by
eating smaller and more frequent meals, avoiding high-fat foods
(fats slow digestion), and avoiding high-fiber foods (fiber is
more difficult to digest).
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.