Definition of Study, gastric emptying

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Study, gastric emptying: A gastric emptying study evaluates the emptying of food from the stomach.

For a gastric emptying study, a patient eats a meal in which the solid food, liquid food or both are mixed with a small amount of radioactive material. A scanner (acting like a Geiger counter) is placed over the stomach to monitor the amount of radioactivity in the stomach for several hours after the test meal. A test may last up to 4 hours in length to ensure adequate data capture to provide the best results for the test.

In patients with abnormal emptying of the stomach, the food and radioactive material stay in the stomach longer than normal (usually hours) before emptying into the small intestine.

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