A diagnosis of gastroparesis begins with X-rays and an endoscopy. If your doctor does not detect another problem, the following tests may be recommended to make a definite diagnosis.
- Endoscopy: During this procedure, the upper portion of the gastrointestinal tract is visualized with a flexible endoscope. The areas examined include the esophagus, or the swallowing tube leading to the stomach, the stomach and the beginning of the small intestine, called the duodenum.
- Gastric Emptying Scan: For this test, you will eat foods, typically eggs, that contain a very safe radioisotope, a slightly radioactive substance that will show up on the scan. The dose of radiation from the radioisotope is small and not dangerous. After eating, you will lie under a machine that shows an image of the food in the stomach and how quickly it leaves the stomach. A diagnosis of gastroparesis is made if more than half of the food remains in the stomach after 60 to 90 minutes. However, sometimes it requires more than one gastric emptying scan to detect gastroparesis.
- Manometry: A test that measures the strength of your stomach contractions.
- Electrogastrogram: This test is for patients who are experiencing unexplained nausea and vomiting. During the one-hour procedure, electrodes are placed on your stomach, which record the electrical activity of your stomach. This must be performed on an empty stomach, followed by a liquid meal.
The procedure is performed using an endoscope, which is a long, thin and flexible tube with a tiny video camera and light on the end. By adjusting the various controls on the endoscope, the gastroenterologist can safely maneuver the instrument to carefully examine the inside lining of the upper digestive system. The endoscope contains a channel that allows instruments to be passed in order to take tissue samples, remove polyps and provide other therapy. The high-quality picture from the endoscope is shown on a TV monitor. In many cases, upper GI endoscopy is a more precise examination than X-ray studies.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.