Gastric Emptying Study

A gastric emptying study is a nuclear medicine procedure that provides a simple, non-invasive way to measure the rate at which your stomach digests food or empties.

What To Expect

You will need to be at our imaging center for 1-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours. How long you will need to be here depends on how long it takes your stomach to empty.

Before your exam, you will be asked to eat a scrambled egg containing a small amount of radiotracer cooked into it. Salt and pepper may be used for seasoning. If you are allergic to eggs, please let us know and a substitution can be made.

As soon as you have finished eating, a scan of your abdomen will be started and will continue for 80 minutes. During the scan, you must lie very still. If you need them, we will provide knee cushions and warm blankets to make you as comfortable as possible.

If your stomach contents have not emptied sufficiently after 80 minutes, you will be asked to return in 90 minutes for a delayed picture of your stomach. The delayed scan will take about 10 minutes, after which you will be free to resume your normal activities.

After the test, a radiologist will review your images, prepare a written report, and discuss the results with your doctor. Your doctor will then explain the test results to you and discuss what further procedures, if any, are needed.

Please remember:

  • It is important to lie very still while you are being imaged. Any movements may distort the images.
  • There is no need to worry about the amount of radiation you will receive during the test. It is no more than you would receive from similar x-ray procedures.
  • If you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant, or are a nursing mother, be sure to tell your doctor before the scan.
  • Although adverse side effects are rare, you should tell the technologist if you feel lightheaded or nauseated, or if you experience other symptoms during the scan.
  • The radiotracer will remain in your body for a short time, and will be cleared from the body through natural bodily functions. Drinking plenty of fluids before and after your exam, and after the tracer injection, will help eliminate the material faster.

Patient Preparation

  • Do not eat or drink anything for eight hours before the exam.
  • Do not take medicines beforehand unless directed by your doctor.
  • Do not take stomach medicine unless directed by your doctor.