Reviewed by Emily Speer, MD

Gastroparesis (GP) is a chronic motility disorder of the stomach, sometimes called “lazy stomach.”The goal for treatment of gastroparesis is to decrease symptoms such as nausea or bloating, but unfortunately a complete cure is unlikely.

In gastroparesis, the stomach has difficulty emptying (or is unable to empty) its contents into the small intestine. The result is that ingested food, liquid and swallowed air remain in the stomach instead of passing through normally. Nausea, vomiting, bloating, reflux and abdominal pain are common in people with gastroparesis. These symptoms are directly related to the immobility of the stomach. Our goal is to improve your gastroparesis symptoms.

 

Causes

In our clinic at National Jewish Health, most people with gastroparesis acquired the disease for an unknown reason (idiopathic). Other causes include diabetic neuropathy, post-surgical issues or side effects of medications such as narcotics. There is some evidence to suggest that gastroparesis can be caused by viruses, neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, mitochondrial diseases and eating disorders.

 

Diagnosis

Once symptoms of GP are identified, objective testing (gastric emptying study) is often done to confirm the diagnosis. A gastric emptying study (GES) involves eating a meal, usually scrambled eggs, labeled with trace amount of radioactive material. Scans are then taken at different time intervals, up to 4 hours, to watch the progression of the meal through the stomach. Based on the remaining amount of stomach contents at the end of each interval, gastroparesis may be diagnosed.

 

Treatment

Regardless of the cause, the treatments are the same.

Learn more about gastroparesis treatment.

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