Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis overview
What are the statistics about gastroparesis?
What is the impact on quality of life?
How is gastroparesis diagnosed?
Treatment

Gastroparesis overview

Gastroparesis is a disorder in which food moves through the stomach slower than normal. This condition often results in severe, chronic nausea and vomiting, bloating, fullness, early satiety or abdominal pain that available drugs may not adequately control. Often, patients require some form of feeding tube to ensure adequate nutrition.

Gastroparesis can be managed, but the disease cannot be cured.

Type 1 diabetes is a major cause of the disorder. But, sometimes, there is no know cause of gastroparesis.

Complications of gastroparesis include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Food hardening into solid masses, causing nausea, vomiting and stomach obstruction
  • Worsening diabetes by making glucose more difficult to control

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What are the statistics about gastroparesis?

  • Gastroparesis affects more than 1.5 million Americans, with approximately 100,000 suffering from a severe form of the disorder. Standard medical therapy fails to relieve symptoms in approximately 30,000 of these patients.
  • At least 20 percent of people with type 1 diabetes develop gastroparesis.
  • Gastroparesis also occurs in people with type 2 diabetes, although less often.

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What is the impact on quality of life?

  • Mealtimes must be carefully timed and portions controlled, which may make dining out difficult, if not impossible.
  • Patients experiencing nausea and vomiting may not know when these episodes will occur.
  • Feeding tubes or intravenous feedings can be restrictive, which limits patient activity.

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How is gastroparesis diagnosed?

The diagnosis of gastroparesis is confirmed through the following tests:

Radioisotope gastric emptying scan

The patient eats food containing a radioisotope, which is a slightly radioactive - but not dangerous - substance that shows up on the scan. After eating, the patient lies under a machine that detects the radioisotope and shows an image of food in the stomach and leaving the stomach. If more than half the food remains after two hours, gastroparesis is diagnosed.

Upper endoscopy and ultrasound

To rule out causes of gastroparesis other than diabetes, a physician may do an upper endoscopy or an ultrasound. An upper endoscopy guides a long, thin flexible tube called an endoscope down the esophagus and into the stomach to look at the lining of the stomach to check for any abnormalities. An ultrasound uses soundwaves to outline and define the shape of the gallbladder and pancreas to rule out gallbladder disease or pancreatitis.

For more information on gastroparesis, see the gastroparesis fact sheet from the Temple Digestive Disease Center.

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Treatment

Learn more about gastroparesis treatments & surgery.

To schedule an appointment with a Temple Digestive Disease Center Physician, click here or call 1-800-TEMPLE-MED [1-800-836-7536].

Gastroparesis Webisode
Becky found treatment for gastroparesis at the Temple Digestive Disease Center — one of only five locations in the country designated by the National Institutes of Health to study gastroparesis. Watch Becky's video:

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Sources:

Used with permission of Medtronic, Inc.

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