Gastric emptying test

What is this test?

A gastric emptying test is done to tell how quickly food or liquids pass from your stomach into your small intestine.

Your appointment

If you make any changes to your insurance before your appointment please call Registration at 1-866-309-0832. This will help to prevent any delays and the need to reschedule your test, as many radiology services need pre-authorization.

Take elevator H or I to Level 3 to Nuclear Medicine.

If you have any questions or need to cancel your appointment please call 1-319-356-1911.

Getting ready for your test

Before your test, tell your doctor or nurse if:

  • You are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or are breastfeeding. 
  • Were given barium for recent x-rays.

Food

  • Do not eat or drink for six hours before your test.
    • You can eat and drink as normal after your test.
  • If you have any other test today where you are told not to eat or drink for a longer amount of time, please follow those instructions.

Medicine

  • Ask your doctor which medicines you should take before your test. Take your needed medicines with a small amount of water before your test.
  • If you take medicine for diabetes, talk with your doctor about changing the dosage for the morning of your test.

If you are unable to perform any of the prep listed above you may not be able to have the test or it may need to be rescheduled. 

What to expect

Solid Gastric Emptying

  • This test will take up to four hours.
  • During the test:
    1. You will eat scrambled eggs with a small amount of radioactive drug.
    2. Pictures will be taken of your stomach with a gamma camera right after you are done eating.
      • It is placed closer to your stomach
      • It does not put out radiation.
      • It is painless.

Liquid Gastric Emptying

  • This test will take up to two hours.
  • During the test:
    1. You will drink water with a small amount of radioactive drug.
    2. Pictures will be taken of your stomach with a gamma camera right after you are done eating.
      • It is placed close to your stomach.
      • It does not put out radiation.
      • It is painless.

After the test

Once you're finished with your test ask your doctor or nurse if you need to go to the doctor's clinic after your test. 

  • Reactions to the small amount of radioactive drug are very rare.
  • There are no side effects.
  • You may do your normal activity. 
Last reviewed: 
August 2018

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