Gastroparesis is a disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty after eating. The delay results in bothersome and possibly serious symptoms because digestion is altered.
Gastroparesis occurs when the nerves to the stomach are damaged or don't work. Diabetes is the most common cause. Other causes include some disorders of the nervous system, such as Parkinson's disease and stroke, and some medicines, such as tricyclic antidepressants, calcium channel blockers, and narcotics. It can also be a complication of gastric surgery.
Symptoms are intermittent and most often occur during and after a meal. They include:
Symptoms range from mild to severe. Severe symptoms of gastroparesis may improve with treatment using medicines that help the stomach empty more quickly (motility agents). In very severe cases, a feeding tube placed in the small intestine may be needed.
A person with gastroparesis also may have episodes of high and low blood sugar levels. Gastroparesis may be suspected in a person with diabetes who has upper digestive tract symptoms or has blood sugar levels that are hard to control. Controlling blood sugar levels may reduce symptoms of gastroparesis.
A diagnosis is confirmed with one or more tests that show how quickly food leaves your stomach, including a radioisotope gastric emptying scan. For these tests, you will drink a fluid or eat some food containing a tiny amount of radioactive substance that will not harm you. This substance shows up on a special image, allowing a doctor to see food in your stomach and watch how quickly it leaves your stomach.
Treatment for gastroparesis depends on the severity of the condition and may include:
|American College of Gastroenterology|
|P.O. Box 342260|
|Bethesda, MD 20827-2260|
The American College of Gastroenterology is an organization of digestive disease specialists. The Web site contains information about common gastrointestinal problems.
|National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)|
|2 Information Way|
|Bethesda, MD 20892-3570|
This clearinghouse is a service of the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The clearinghouse answers questions; develops, reviews, and sends out publications; and coordinates information resources about digestive diseases. Publications produced by the clearinghouse are reviewed carefully for scientific accuracy, content, and readability.
Other Works Consulted
- Mahimo H, et al. (2005). Effects of diabetes mellitus on the digestive system. In Joslin's Diabetes Mellitus, 14th ed., pp. 1070–1102. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Gomez J, Parkman HP (2009). Gastrointestinal motility and functional disorders. In EG Nabel, ed., ACP Medicine, section 4, chap. 14. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.
- Wang VS, et al. (2009). Disorders of gastric and small bowel motility. In NJ Greenberger et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Endoscopy, pp. 200–209. New York: McGraw-Hill.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology|
|Last Revised||July 8, 2010|
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