What is gastroparesis?
Gastroparesis is a chronic disorder in which food moves throughout the stomach more slowly than normal. Patients with gastroparesis complain of chronic or recurrent gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, early satiety (they get full very soon after beginning a meal) and bloating. They may require frequent hospital admissions for severe symptoms, dehydration and malnutrition. Symptoms may become so severe that patients may find themselves unable to work or enjoy normal activities.
How is gastroparesis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of gastroparesis is confirmed with a radioisotope gastric-emptying scan. If less than half of a slightly radioactive meal (very low and safe levels) ingested prior to this test empties from the stomach in two hours, then gastroparesis is the diagnosis. Additional tests such as an endoscopy, an upper GI x-ray series, or an ultrasound may be helpful in confirming the diagnosis.
What causes gastroparesis?
The three most common types of gastroparesis are diabetic, idiopathic and post-surgical gastroparesis. Some degree of gastroparesis is present in 25-50% of type I diabetics and in approximately 30% of type II diabetics. Most patients with idiopathic gastroparesis are young or middle-aged women. These patients experience symptoms and delayed gastric emptying without any other clear-cut causative medical problems. Post-surgical gastroparesis typically occurs after stomach surgery (such as a fundoplication for reflux disease).
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