Saturday, June 9
Gastric emptying studies are studies that determine how well food empties from the stomach. As discussed above, about 20 % of patients with GERD have a slow emptying of the stomach that may be contributing to the reflux of acid. For gastric emptying studies, the patient eats a meal that is labeled with a radioactive substance. A sensor that is similar to a Geiger counter is placed over the stomach to measure how quickly the radioactive substance in the meal empties from the stomach.
Information from the emptying study can be useful for managing patients with GERD. For example, if a patient with GERD continues to have symptoms despite treatment with the usual medications, doctors might prescribe other medications that speed-up emptying of the stomach. Alternatively, in conjunction with GERD surgery, they might do a surgical procedure that promotes a more rapid emptying of the stomach. Nevertheless, it is still debated whether a finding of reduced gastric emptying should prompt changes in the surgical treatment of GERD.
Symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and regurgitation may be due either to abnormal gastric emptying or GERD. An evaluation of gastric emptying, therefore, may be useful in identifying patients whose symptoms are due to abnormal emptying rather than to GERD.