Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Doctors use several tests to help diagnose gastroparesis and rule out conditions that may cause similar symptoms. Tests may include:

  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy. This procedure is used to visually examine your upper digestive system — your esophagus, stomach and beginning of the small intestine (duodenum) — with a tiny camera on the end of a long, flexible tube.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) enterography and magnetic resonance (MR) enterography. These are noninvasive tests that are more sensitive than conventional imaging for finding inflammation or blockage in the intestines. MR enterography is a radiation-free alternative.
  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) series. This is a series of X-rays in which you drink a white, chalky liquid (barium) that coats the digestive system to help abnormalities show up.
  • Gastric emptying study. This test involves eating a light meal, such as eggs and toast, that contains a small amount of radioactive material. A scanner that detects the movement of the radioactive material is placed over your abdomen to monitor the rate at which food leaves your stomach. This is the most important test used in making a diagnosis of gastroparesis.
  • Breath test. This test involves drinking a small amount of sugar water and then measuring the amount of gas processed by your body (metabolized) in the breath.
Jan. 15, 2014