Gastric Emptying Study
A gastric emptying study, also known as GES, is a diagnostic test conducted to determine the amount of time it takes for the stomach to empty. A GES is usually performed to identify conditions that may affect the natural emptying of the stomach and causing symptoms that include nausea and vomiting. A slow or rapid emptying of the stomach may occur as a result of conditions that include systemic sclerosis, medication or diabetes.
The GES Procedure
During a gastric emptying study, the patient is asked to eat a solid meal with a liquid that has been mixed with a small amount of radioactive material. Once consumed, a scanner is placed over the stomach to monitor the amount of radioactivity as digestion occurs. The rate at which the radioactive material leaves the stomach determines the rate at which food is emptied.
The GES procedure is safe and painless. The radioactive material is not absorbed by the body and is eliminated in the stool. The GES procedure should not be performed on pregnant women so that the fetus is not exposed to radiation.
Similar tests may be performed instead of a gastric emptying study, including:
- Upper GI series
- Antro-duodenal motility study
- SPECT test
These tests cannot specifically determine, however, the rate at which the stomach empties.