Diagnosis

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

  • Gastric emptying study. This is the most important test used in making a diagnosis of gastroparesis. It 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.

    You'll need to stop taking any medications that could slow gastric emptying. Ask your doctor if any of your medications might slow your digestion.

  • 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.This test can also diagnose other conditions, such as peptic ulcer disease or pyloric stenosis, which can have symptoms similar to those of gastroparesis.
  • Ultrasound. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within your body. Ultrasound can help diagnose whether problems with your gallbladder or your kidneys could be causing your symptoms.
  • Upper gastrointestinal 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.