Gastroparesis is a disorder characterized by abnormal emptying of food from the stomach into the small intestine.
After ingestion into the stomach, food is normally ground into smaller pieces, mixed with acid and other digestive enzymes, and then slowly released into the small intestine over several hours. In patients with gastroparesis, this process is delayed and food remains in the stomach for prolonged periods of time.
Patients often complain of bloating after meals, filling up after only a few bites of food, nausea, vomiting, and even abdominal pain.
Gastroparesis may be a complication of long-standing diabetes, a side effect from certain medications, or the result of a recent viral illness.
The diagnosis is confirmed by performing a nuclear medicine Gastric Emptying Scan, a study that measures the rate at which the stomach empties.
Treatment consists of dietary modification and medications that promote more efficient stomach motor function.