Gastric Emptying

Download/print the Gastric Emptying patient information sheet

What is a gastric emptying scan?

A gastric emptying study is performed to evaluate the function of the stomach by measuring how quickly food empties from it.

How should I prepare for my exam?
  • Do not eat or drink anything eight hours prior to your exam.

  • If you are taking pain medications or gastrointestinal medications, you may be asked to hold these medications for two days, unless otherwise instructed by your healthcare provider. Continue taking other prescribed medications, unless directed otherwise. If you need to take medications the morning of your exam, you may do so with a very small sip of water.

  • Do not smoke the morning of your exam. You will be asked to refrain from smoking for the duration of the exam.

  • Wear comfortable clothes without metal fasteners, including zippers, buttons and snaps.

  • Arrive 15 minutes early to complete registration.
How long will my exam take?

A gastric emptying exam will take about four hours.

What happens during my exam?

A nuclear medicine technologist will give you a meal of scrambled eggs or oatmeal with a small amount of radioactive tracer added, along with two slices of toast with jam.

Immediately following the meal, images will be taken of your stomach using the nuclear medicine scanner. Images will be taking at timed intervals for the next four hours, as directed by the nuclear medicine technologist.

What happens after my exam?

Your images will be interpreted by one of our board-certified radiologists. The findings will be sent to your healthcare provider who will then contact you to discuss the results.

Unless directed otherwise, you may drive, resume your normal diet, exercise and take all prescribed medications after your appointment.

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