Gastric Emptying Study


A Gastroesophageal Reflux Study (Gastric Emptying Study) is a diagnostic imaging procedure that measures the time it takes the stomach to empty and detects gastroesophageal reflux.

This study can help:
Detect gastroesophageal reflux
Measure gastric emptying time
Detect aspiration
Evaluate a reason for nausea and vomiting
Evaluate why a child is not gaining weight
Assess why a child is having abdominal pain

How to prepare for this study?
The child can not eat or drink anything 4 hours prior to the examination. It is important not to have had a barium study within 48 hours prior.

How is a Gastroesophageal Reflux Study (Gastric Emptying Study) performed?
The child’s referring physician will determine if the study should be liquid or solid. If the child has allergies to either eggs or milk, this should be advised. The technologist will add a small amount of a radiopharmaceutical called Technetium-99m Sulfur Colloid to either scrambled eggs (if a solid study) or to formula/milk (if liquid study). The radiopharmaceutical is tasteless. It is important that the test food or liquid is consumed within 10 minutes. When eating is complete, imaging will begin for one hour. It is important that the child remain as still as possible during the images for the best quality images.

What can be expected during the procedure?
Although the camera may appear large and intimidating, it does not touch the child and perhaps a favourite DVD or Cd can be used for a distraction.

What happens after the study?
Once the study is complete, it will be evaluated for quality. If there was too much motion, the study may need to be repeated. If there was no motion, the child will be free to leave and resume normal activity.

How are the results of the study obtained?
The images will be processed and then the nuclear medicine physician will evaluate and interpret the study and promptly inform you and your child’s referring physician of the results. The study should allow physicians to identify abnormalities related to emptying of the stomach and diseases that involve changes in the way the stomach contracts (motility disorders).


About Author


As well as being one of the founding members of refluxSUPPORT...Jonathan is a Board Member and trustee of Living with Reflux – the only UK Charity for infants with reflux related conditions.He is also a stakeholder in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – Gastro-oesophageal reflux in children and young people.He has three daughters of which the eldest is now seventeen. Two suffered from severe reflux.