What Is Gastroparesis?
How Is Gastroparesis Diagnosed?
To diagnose gastroparesis, your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history. He or she will also give you a physical exam and may order certain blood tests, including blood sugar levels. Other tests used to diagnose and evaluate gastroparesis may include:
: You drink a liquid (barium), which coats the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine and shows up on X-ray. This test is also known as an upper GI (gastrointestinal) series or a barium swallow.
Radioisotope gastric-emptying scan (gastric scintigraphy): You eat food that contains a very small amount of radioisotope (a radioactive substance), then lie under a scanning machine; if the scan shows that more than 10% of food is still in your stomach 4 hours after eating, you are diagnosed with gastroparesis.
Gastric manometry: A thin tube that is passed through your mouth and into the stomach measures the stomach's electrical and muscular activity to determine the rate of digestion.
Electrogastrography: This test measures electrical activity in the stomach using electrodes placed on the skin.
The smart pill: This is a small electronic device that is swallowed. It sends back information about how fast it is traveling as it moves through the digestive system.
: This is an imaging test that uses sound waves to create pictures of body organs. Your doctor may use ultrasound to eliminate other diseases.
: This procedure involves passing a thin tube (endoscope) down the esophagus to examine the lining of the stomach.
What Is the Treatment for Gastroparesis?
Gastroparesis is a chronic (long-lasting) condition. This means that treatment usually doesn't cure the disease. But there are steps you can take to manage and control the condition.
Some patients may benefit from medications, including:
Reglan (metoclopramide): You take this drug before eating and it causes the stomach muscles to contract and move food along. Reglan also decreases the incidence of vomiting and nausea. Side effects include diarrhea, drowsiness, anxiety, and, rarely, a serious neurological disorder.
Erythromycin: This is an antibiotic that also causes stomach contractions and helps move food out. Side effects include diarrhea and development of resistant bacteria from prolonged exposure to the antibiotic.
Antiemetics: These are drugs that help control nausea.
People who have diabetes should try to control their blood sugar levels to minimize the problems of gastroparesis.