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Gastric Emptying Test

Gastric Emptying Test

General Information

The Gastric Emptying Test measures the time that it takes for your stomach to empty the food into the small bowel. Thus this test allows us to determine if the emptying of your stomach is normal or slow. These tests are an important part of the investigation and the future management of your stomach condition. The result assists your doctor in planning appropriate treatment for you so it is important for you to keep your appointment.

If instructed (see appointment letter), you may be required to stop all stomach medication such as proton pump inhibitors (Losec, Nexium etc) and antacids for 24-hours before the test. You should stop all pro-motility agents such a domperidone, erythromycin etc 72-hours before the test. You may take all other essential medicines; if in doubt please ask us. You should not have anything to eat for 6 hours before the study (from midnight if your appointment is before 12pm). You can drink up to 250mls of water (half a pint) on the morning of your study. Otherwise, you do not need to do anything before your arrival at the Unit.

You will be asked some questions relating to how your stomach works and the problems you have been having. We will then explain the procedure to you and you will be asked to sign a consent form, giving us permission to do the tests. Although there are no risks involved in performing the tests, some patients may find they have some mild stomach discomfort.

In order for us to carry out the tests you will be asked to provide a breath sample (by blowing into a foil bag). You will then eat a small meal of either porridge or an egg sandwich. If you have any food allergies or special requirements (Kosher, for example) please let us know and we can accommodate this. The meal contains an inert (safe) chemical which is digested with the food and excreted by the lungs when you breathe out. By measuring how much of the chemical is in your breath over time we can estimate how well your stomach is emptying. The test takes 4.5 hours so bring something to read or a mobile device/laptop as the hospital offers free WiFi. Although not necessary, you are welcome to bring along somebody for support if you so require.

Are there any risks?

There is no reason why the tests should have any adverse effects. You may expect the same symptoms that you usually experience after eating a meal. For instance, some patients may be prone to experience pain, fullness, nausea and occasionally vomiting after eating and these symptoms may also therefore occur during or after the test.

After the test

Once the test has finished you will be allowed to go home. You can eat and drink normally after the test and do not need to take any special precautions. If you continue to experience any ongoing symptoms after the test then you are welcome to contact us again using the contact details provided on this website.