Gastroparesis Overview DiagnOSiS Gastroparesis literally translated means “stomach paralysis”. Gastroparesis is a
digestive disorder in which the motility of the stomach is either abnormal or absent.
In healthy people, when the stomach is functioning normally, contractions of the
stomach help to crush ingested food and then propel the pulverized food into the
small intestine where further digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. When the
condition of gastroparesis is present the stomach is unable to contract normally, and
therefore cannot crush food nor propel food into the small intestine properly. Normal
an evaluation to determine the cause of symptoms. Inflammation, ulcer
disease, or obstruction by a tumor can also cause these symptoms and
Symptoms of gastroparesis include bloating, nausea, early fullness while eating meals,
heartburn, and epigastric pain. These symptoms are often referred to as dyspepsia.
Ingestion of solid foods, high fiber foods such as raw fruits and vegetables, fatty foods
or drinks high in fat or carbonation may cause symptoms. Perhaps the most common
symptom is early satiety, or the sensation of feeling full shortly after starting a meal.
Nausea and vomiting are also common. A person with gastroparesis may regurgitate
or vomit undigested food many hours after their last meal. Weight loss can occur due
to poor absorption of nutrients, or taking in too few calories.
There are many causes of gastroparesis. Diabetes is one of the most common
causes for gastroparesis. Other causes include infections, endocrine disorders
like hypothyroidism, connective tissue disorders like scleroderma, autoimmune stomach. The endoscope has camera capabilities and allows the upper gastrointestinal conditions, neuromuscular diseases, idiopathic (unknown) causes, psychological
tract to be evaluated for ulcers, inflammation, infection, cancer, hernias or other
conditions, eating disorders, certain cancers, radiation treatment applied over the
abnormalities. These conditions can cause symptoms similar to gastroparesis.
chest or abdomen, some chemotherapy agents, and surgery of the upper intestinal
Upper endoscopy usually requires 10-15 minutes to complete. Medication is usually
tract. Any surgery on the esophagus, stomach or duodenum may result in injury to administered intravenously immediately before the test for comfort and sedation. the vagus nerve which is responsible for many sensory and motor (muscle) responses
If abnormal findings such as an ulcer or inflammation are noted biopsies can be
of the intestine. In health, the vagus nerve sends neurotransmitter impulses to the
obtained. Fluid samples may be collected testing for bacterial overgrowth.
smooth muscle of the stomach that result in contraction and forward propulsion of gastric contents. If the vagus nerve is injured by trauma or during surgery gastric Gastric Emptying Study is a widely available nuclear medicine test that examines emptying may be reduced. Symptoms of postoperative gastroparesis may develop
the rate of emptying of solid or liquid material from the stomach. A delay in gastric
immediately, or months to years after a surgery is performed.
emptying indicates a diagnosis of gastroparesis. Subjects consume an egg and toast or oatmeal meal along with milk or orange juice. The food portion contains a
It is important to realize that medications prescribed for a variety of conditions may
tiny amount of the radioactive material (99m Tc), which is measured by a scanning
have side effects that cause gastric emptying to slow down. The most common drugs
technique as it empties from the stomach. A longer test can examine if small intestine
that delay stomach emptying are narcotics and certain antidepressants. Table 1 lists
more medications that may delay stomach emptying. If possible, patients having dyspeptic symptoms, vomiting or early fullness should discontinue the offending
Scintigraphic Gastric Accommodation is a test that measures the volume of stomach
medications before undergoing any motility tests. Fortunately, gastric emptying
contents before and after a meal, and how well the stomach relaxes in response to
resumes and symptoms improve when medications causing ‘pseudo-gastroparesis’
food intake. This test uses a tiny amount of radioactive material (99m Tc) which is
are stopped. It is important to have the names of all your medications recorded and
selectively taken up by the lining of the stomach, and indirectly measures the volume
with you when you see a physician for evaluation of gastrointestinal symptoms.
of the stomach. The subject consumes a nutrient drink over 30 seconds. A scan of the stomach is taken before and after the nutrient drink. The test indicates whether the
People with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia may also develop
stomach relaxes appropriately when filled. Symptoms of poor stomach relaxation
delayed gastric emptying. Gastric emptying may resume and symptoms improve
can be identical to poor emptying, and this test can help distinguish the processes.
when food intake and eating schedules normalize.
Scintigraphic gastric accommodation is not readily available.
Gastroduodenal manometry is a test that measures how well the smooth muscle of the
Medications associated with impaired gastric emptying
stomach and small intestine contracts and relaxes. The test is performed by placing a thin tube into the stomach usually with the aid of the endoscope. The tube is advanced
into the small intestine and over the next few hours the contractile responses while
the subject is fasting and eating are observed and recorded. The manometry catheter provides information on how strong and how often the muscles of the stomach and
intestine contract and whether the stomach contractions are coordinated with the
contractions in the small bowel. Gastric duodenal manometry may be helpful but is often not needed to make a diagnosis of gastroparesis. This test is not widely available.
All medical information was taken directly from the ACG, ASGE or AGA patient information section• A Small Intestinal X-ray is a contrast radiograph used to outline the anatomy comes in tablet, liquid, intravenous, as well as a new under-the-tongue disintegrating
of the small bowel. This study is not generally needed to make a diagnosis of form. gastroparesis, but a blockage anywhere in the small intestine will result in a back up of material and could account for delayed gastric emptying. An obstruction
Domperidone is another medication, similar to metoclopramide, that acts on
in the small bowel may cause symptoms similar to gastroparesis, but the
dopamine receptors. Domperidone does not have the side effect of tardive dyskenisia
treatment is different. Treatment for intestinal obstruction is avoiding intake of
and agitation that are seen with metoclopramide because it acts mostly on peripheral
any food or liquid until the cause of obstruction such as inflammation resolves
receptors, rather than in the brain. Domperidone is not available in the United States
or surgery is performed to remove the blockage.
but is used in Mexico and Canada and in some European countries. It is available in
• Wireless capsule GI monitoring system (SmartPill®)
The wireless capsule monitoring system is a non-digestible capsule that records
Erythromycin is a commonly used antibiotic that binds to receptors in the stomach
pH, temperature and pressure changes as it travels through the intestine (figure
and small intestine called “motilin receptors”. Stimulation of motilin receptors
3). The information from the wireless capsule is transmitted to a receiver worn
results in contraction and improved emptying of the stomach. The beneficial effect
by the patient around their waist. The information is used to determine how fast
of erythromycin can be short lived as individuals who use it frequently have a
or slow the stomach empties, and similarly how food and liquid move through
high likelihood of developing tolerance to the medication. Perhaps the best use of
the intestine. The test is done in an outpatient setting, takes generally 3-6 hours
erythromycin is for acute worsening of symptoms or used on an intermittent basis in
and within 24-72 hours the pill is passed from the body. A potential advantage of
order to reduce the potential for tolerance. It is available in pill, liquid and intravenous
the wireless capsule system over conventional gastric emptying or scintigraphy
would be that the study could be done in the outpatient setting and would not involve radiation, though the amount of radiation used in alternative tests is Cisapride binds to serotonin receptors located in the wall of the stomach that leads
very small and not considered harmful. Occasionally, if the capsule is not passed
to contraction of stomach smooth muscle and improved gastric emptying. In the late
within three days your doctor may request an abdominal x-ray to assure it has left
1990’s cisapride was taken off the market due to complications of cardiac arrhythmias
the body. Use of the wireless capsule monitoring system is not recommended in
in patients who were using this drug. It is once again available but its use is restricted.
patients who have had previous surgery to decrease the amount of acid they are
Individuals with underlying kidney or heart disease should not use cisapride.
secreting, in patients who are unable to stop their antacid medications for the study or in patients with narrowing of the bowel lumen. Therapies Under Investigation for Gastroparesis treatment Serotonin receptor agonists have been used as treatment for other motility disorders
and may offer some promise for the treatment of gastroparesis. Acetylcholine esterase
Importance of Nutrition as Treatment in Gastroparesis
inhibitors have been shown in some clinical trials to improve symptoms of dyspepsia.
Diet is one of the mainstays of treatment for those who suffer from gastroparesis.
Ghrelin agonists are motilin-related peptides that accelerate gastric emptying,
Some foods are more difficult than others for the stomach to digest. Fatty foods take
small intestine transit and improve postoperative ileus. Cholecystokinin receptor
a longer time to digest, as do foods that are fibrous, like raw vegetables. People with
antagonists have been shown to reverse slow gastric emptying caused by a high fat
gastroparesis should reduce their intake of fiber or avoid these foods. Fiber when
meal. Many of these treatments are currently under investigation as treatments for
eaten should be chewed well and cooked until soft. Food that is poorly digested
can collect in the stomach and form what is called a bezoar. This mass of undigested matter may cause a blockage, preventing the stomach from emptying and result
Surgery for Gastroparesis
in nausea and pain. In such a case, it may be necessary to use endoscopic tools to break the bezoar apart and remove it. Fortunately, even when stomach emptying is
Surgery for gastroparesis is reserved for individuals with severe and refractory
significantly impaired, thick and thin liquids (e.g. pudding and nutrient drinks) are
symptoms, intolerance to therapy, or malnutrition related to the condition. Venting
usually tolerated and can pass through the stomach. Many people with gastroparesis
tubes placed into the stomach may reduce symptoms and hospitalizations for
can live a relatively normal life with the aid of supplemental nutritional drinks, soft
individuals with recurrent vomiting and dehydration. Varieties of tubes, including
foods the consistency of pudding and by pureeing solid food in a blender.
button gastrostomy tubes and percutaneous gastrostomy tubes are available to vent trapped air from within the poorly contracting stomach. A dual channel gastrostomy
Feeding tubes placed in the small intestine (jejunostomy) may be required if gastric
tube allows both gastric venting and nutritional supplementation delivered
paralysis is severe and a person is unable to manage with a pureed or soft diet. These
into the small intestine. A percutaneous jejunostomy tube is used for nutritional
feeding tubes are usually placed endoscopically or surgically through the skin and
supplementation. In some cases the lower part of the stomach is stapled or bypassed
directly into the small intestine (figure 1). Before such a feeding tube is placed, a and the small intestine reattached to the remaining stomach to improve emptying of temporary nasal or oral jejunal feeding tube is usually tried for a few days to make sure
stomach contents. Rarely the stomach is completely removed.
the individual can tolerate this form of feeding into the small bowel. The temporary feeding tube is usually placed by guiding it through the nose or mouth, down the
Electrical Gastric Stimulation
esophagus or “food pipe”, through the stomach and finally into the small intestine with the aid of an endoscope (figure 2).
An area generating a great deal of interest and research is the use of electrical stimulation to enhance gastrointestinal contractile activity. This technique uses electrodes that are surgically or endoscopically attached to the stomach wall and
Medications Prescribed for Gastroparesis
when stimulated, trigger stomach contractions (figure 4). While gastric electrical
At the present time there are few medications available or are approved to treat
stimulation does not lead to a significant improvement in gastric emptying, in
gastroparesis and their use can be limited by undesirable side effects and limited the subgroup of patients with nausea and vomiting as their main symptoms, effectiveness. The medications available include metoclopramide, domperidone,
this treatment may provide relief of symptoms. How the device works is not well
understood at this point, but it is thought that it has its effect on the nerves that control sensation within the stomach wall. Several studies have shown patients have
Metoclopramide is a medication that acts on dopamine receptors in the stomach
a better quality of life and spend less time in the hospital for gastroparesis symptoms
and intestine as well as in the brain. This medication can stimulate contraction of the
after the placement of the electrical stimulator.
stomach that leads to improvement in emptying. This medication also has the effect of acting on the part of the brain responsible for controlling the vomiting reflex and therefore may decrease the sensation of nausea and the urge to vomit. Use of this medication is limited in some people due to the side effects of dystonia, agitation and muscle twitching or “tardive dyskinesia”. Metoclopramide can also cause restlessness, insomnia, depression, as well as painful breast swelling and nipple discharge in both men and women. It is not recommended that this medication be taken long term. It
All medical information was taken directly from the ACG, ASGE or AGA patient information section
Figure 1: Gastrostomy and jejunostomy anatomy
Figure 3: Wireless Capsule Monitoring System
authOr(S) anD publiCatiOn Date(S) Amy Foxx-Orenstein, D.O., FACG, FACP, Mayo Clinic Arizona – Updated November 2008. Updated December 2012.Jean Fox, MD and Amy Foxx-Orenstein, DO, FACG, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN – Published August 2004.All medical information was taken directly from the ACG, ASGE or AGA patient information section
Aspirin Titration Introduction: Aspirin is an acid. The active ingredient is acetyl salicylic acid. Different strengths of aspirin are based on the amount of active ingredients that they contain. Titration is a way to determine how much acid is in a solution by adding just enough base of a known concentration to neutralize the acid. In a neutralization, the number of moles of aci
La Sindrome da Iperincrezione di CRH Negli ultimi anni molti ricercatori hanno documentato un eccesso di mortalità fra i pazienti affetti da patologie coronariche acute che presentavano anche sintomi depressivi. Il rischio di mortalità, indipendente da altri fattori, risulta mediamente aumentato di 3-4 volteone rappresenta un fattore di rischio più rilevante di fumo, o ha portato ad appro