Anyone had a "gastric emptying study"?

Some symptoms which may be GERD related, have led to my doc ordering one of these studies.

Apparently it involves feeding me radioactive scrambled eggs and seeing how long it takes for them to exit my stomach.

Why the radioactivity, I have no clue - it doesn’t take special equipment to see eggs go in the mouth, watch me swallow, and see the eggs do an immediate about-face and go right back out the “in” door :wink:

Alternately, I could bring some wallpaper paste from home. Er, plain instant oatmeal, that is.

So how annoying is this sort of thing? Do they make you choke down a lot of the foul stuff? Do you have to avoid being around people for a while? Does your toilet glow in the dark the next day?

They asked me if I weighed more than 350 pounds (I don’t). Why is this? Do they slide you in a tube somewhere like an MRI or something? Do you lie on a table? Do they provide pillows at least? (I gots me some bad joints going on and a hard table will be… difficult).

Honestly, the only thing I really dread is those damn eggs. It’s at the same place I had my recent surgery and the food was beyond scary.

No but I swallowed a pill that had a camera in it and it took pictures all the way through. The only bad part was no eating from midnight to lunch. They did not find anything wrong with me.

The closest I’ve had is a stomach scope, where they put you out and check what’s inside your stomach/intestines.

But I do believe that any test that uses radiation like this will likely involve them putting you in a machine. The point of the radiation is that it gives them a way to track the food they gave you, and see what it does. They have to use some sort of camera-like machine to track it.

And I don’t believe the radiation is high enough to glow or be dangerous. In fact, in this PDF I found looking for the name of the machine, they say you only get what you would normally get in a month.

That PDF might be something you’d be interested in reading, actually, as it reads like one of those pamphlets your doctor sometimes gives you to explain the procedure.

I also swallowed a radioactive milkshake (barium) , they did not put me in a machine, they just took x-rays. After all this stuff they never found a problem - my iron was low so they thought I might have internal bleeding.

I just recently did that test, too, and it sounds like it came back normal, which is not the result I hoped for - I hoped for an ulcer, so maybe I could get my chronic stomach pain cleared up.

I’m interested in the gastric emptying study - it just occurred to me recently that I think my stomach acts weird. I noticed that I’m uncomfortably full from eating, then in the space of minutes I go from full to stomach-rumbling hungry. If that’s not normal, then it might be related to my ongoing problems. Keep us updated, Mama.

Oh yeah, about the weight - if they use the same x-ray machine as they used for an upper gastric series, you have to stand on a ledge and the machine rotates you around - I’m guessing 350 is the upper limit for the x-ray machine.

Delayed stomach emptying can be caused by diabetes.

Yep… though we don’t think that’s going on here; I did have a high blood sugar reading just before Christmas (due to a gallbladder flareup) but it was barely above normal a month later, and I’ve lost 5+ more pounds since then so I suspect it’s back to normal or at least nearly so.

In my case, the symptoms which prompted this either started 50 years ago, or 8 weeks ago. “The 50 years ago” refers to a chronic (mild TMI) “regurgitating” problem in which I sometimes get to, well, revisit bits of my food

The “8 weeks ago” refers to a new BP med, an ACE inhibitor, which has a dry cough as one of its known side effects.

Time-wise, the ACE inhibitor sure looks like the culprit (there’s a near-perfect correlation between when I started it, when I went off it, when I restarted it, and when the coughing started, stopped, and restarted)…

…only the coughing doesn’t meet the normal pattern. ACE-induced coughing is usually 24 hours a day, mine is only when lying down at night. THAT sounds more like GERD. Since I’m known to have reflux, it might be that the symptoms have just taken a lovely new twist from the relatively civilized way they’ve behaved for the last 50 years. So anyway, we’re going down that route (somewhat reluctantly on my part as the tests can be unpleasant).

From here:

We’re not even convinced gastroparesis is at play, but as the doc said, a gastroenterologist would order this test anyway. If I do have it, nearly all of the above could apply. Diabetes, check (though unlikely; my blood sugar wasn’t all that high, for very long at all, and the symptoms developed after that was on the way down). Surgery: I had my gallbladder out last month, but the most recent symptoms started before that. Viral infection: not that I know of; Anorexia/bulimia, nope; Meds: nothing listed above; GERD, certainly; muscle disorders, I hope not! nervous system: ditto; hypothyroidism, got that. In short, several alternatives to diabetes, if I do have gastroparesis.

I don’t honestly think I’ve got any chronic gastroparesis. Sure, there are times where I feel bloated for hours after a meal, but they’re not exactly the norm. And of course the test has false positives and false negatives. So, unless something really major is seen (like I’m pooping isotopes after 20 minutes, or they’re using me to power the neighborhood 2 weeks later), I’ll take it with a grain of the salt I’m sure won’t be on the eggs :stuck_out_tongue:

Ah - that makes sense (the weight).

Sorry the barium swallow didn’t give you results. It’s funny when you have a test and hope for abnormalities, because that would mean they’ve identified the problem and can FIX it, dammit (I’ve had that with a few conditions).

Have you mentioned the symptoms of 55-to-0-in-10-seconds to your doctor? That might well be typical of gastroparesis, though I haven’t found anything that specifically cites it.

I had some kind of barium drink that was like a thick milkshake. It was consumed in stages so it wasn’t a chugging contest. And yes, if you’re pooping in front of an X-ray machine it will show up. You look like a lava lamp on the monitor.

(bolding mine)
Not dangerous? well, phooey - THAT’s no fun! :mad: :p.

Thanks for the link - it actually does explain some stuff. I was told it would only take about 2 hours, but it sounds like I’d better make sure my iPod is loaded and ready to go. And I might want to check to see if I can take something for my restless legs - they said NO MEDICATIONS but if I’m twitching, the readings may be off.

I did this test a couple of years ago with the oatmeal. Actually, it was Cream of Wheat IIRC. I didn’t have to eat a lot of it - it was less than I would eat for breakfast.

The length of the test depends on how long it takes the stuff to work its way through your stomach. I was there for a couple of hours. I knew before the test that my stomach wasn’t emptying normally, so I wasn’t surprised when the little radioactive dots just sat there. After so many takes with no movement, they just let me go. They had their answer and didn’t need me to stay until all the stuff finally shot through the old crap factory.

The x-rays only took a minute each, and I didn’t have to sit still between takes. They let me roam around the lab. But it was boring after a while. I struck up a conversation with the technician and learned a lot about the various gizmos he uses.

They never really tried to figure out why my stomach was emptying slowly, they just prescribed me Reglan, which is supposed to speed things up. I don’t trust that kind of medicine, so I only take it when things are really dire. Now that I know the cause of my years of upset stomachs, it is fairly easy to control them simply by eating smaller portions and limiting the fibrous, dry or fatty foods. For years I thought there was something complicated and physiological wrong with me, but it was just plain old indigestion, or dyspepsia as they used to call it back before they got all fancy with their proton pump inhibitors and whatnot.

Hyperelastic, thanks for popping in.

I don’t have a lot of the symptoms that Doctor Google says are typical of gastroparesis (vomiting, weight loss, suppressed appetite, bloating)… though I do tend to “urpse” up bits of food for a couple of hours after a meal. That’s intermittent though… and it’s something I’ve been doing my entire life as far as I can recall. So, I don’t really know that the test will give us anything terribly useful regarding the current symptoms, but it doesn’t hurt to get this out of the way at least.

Good to know I won’t have to stay still. I think I’ll call and ask for more specific info about how things will proceed though. It’s a bit unnerving to think that after fasting for 12 hours, they’ll only give me a tiny amount of food - I get nauseous if I get too hungry.

Typo Knig is a “lapsed physicist” so I’m under orders to ask lots of questions about the isotope, its half-life, etc. :slight_smile:

Oh… and I suppose it would be wrong to send a pic of the Incredible Hulk to my facebook page during this, with the caption “you wouldn’t LIKE me when I’m ANGRY”.

But I’m gonna do it anyway ;).

No, I only made the connection recently. I’ll mention it next time I’m in to see him.

I get that, too. Do you also get nauseated when you’re really tired?

I did this test last fall with a hardboiled egg. It tasted exactly like a regular hard boiled egg. The only worrisome part was that the tech advised me not to touch the egg with my skin. I’m well equipped to eat with a knife and fork and I figured that was so there wasn’t radioactive material on my hands that my show up if I rested them on my stomach. I think the test itself took about an hour and a half. The equipment was pretty open, so I didn’t feel claustrophobic. The only bad part was that I didn’t end up with any super powers. I always figured my first good radioactive encounter would allow me to see through walls or something. No luck. It didn’t even diagnose my problem.

Well, I stumbled through sheer dumb luck into someone who had the exact same test, in the same hospital system (Inova, for you Northern VA Dopers, though she went to a different location). It was one of the PT assistants where I do my physical therapy.

She said “gross scrambled egg sandwich”… and she said she had to lie PERFECTLY still for something like 2 hours… despite being desperate to pee (they also made her drink a bunch of water). I told her that’s good to know - as I’ll be prepared to trot out my “inner bitch” as needed if I get desperate.

Or pee all over the table, whichever will be more satisfying (maybe I’ll bring a change of clothes… heh heh heh).

I had this test a number of years ago.

I got not only radioactive scrambled eggs, but also radioactive OJ!

Then I sat and they took pictures of my belly every 15 min or so for quite some time. I was just standing in front of said device, fully upright.

In the end, they said that things should have emptied in like 60-75 min (I believe) but I was on pace for like 300 min or more…

At the time, I had been diagnosed with GERD, but they were also investigating possible IBS. Many years later, I suspect the real cause was slow digestion from early Type II Diabetes, which at that point I had not been diagnosed with.

I had to lay on my side after a liver biopsy and they gave me a bottle to pee into. I was able to move around as long as I stayed on my side.

I just got irradiated!

They fed me and let me take a nap, that’s what I call a good day :D.

The eggs weren’t bad - freshly prepared, and they actually did let me use salt and pepper. As a confirmed egg-hater, this is high praise indeed.

Then I had to take a tiny swallow of water - just enough to wash any residual bits of egg out of my mouth. Then I got to lay down on a very narrow slab (they had to put extra supports on each side for my arms, that’s how narrow it was), they put a wedge under my knees, dumped a bunch of blankets over me (I had to tell him I didn’t need all of them), and slid me into this open toroidal thing (roughly the size of a CAT scanner), and rotated a big square thing over my torso.

The technician first told me I couldn’t have my iPod on. Oh well. Then another one said “sure she can”. So the first tech had to bring me my purse and then he had to try to find the iPod - first he handed me my phone, which tells me he didn’t realize what I meant when I first asked about the ipod. :smack:. I quickly started up my audiobook… and drifted for the next hour and a half.

Obviously I don’t know the results yet. The doc will have them Monday, though I don’t see her for a few weeks.

Not sure what we can do even if it turns up some slowness - the main drug they use for that is Reglan which I can’t take (it’s bad for RLS patients… makes us twitchy).

Grats on surviving =) It is always nice when a procedure isn’t as nasty as one is lead to believe!

And it figures, you may need drugs to speed up your digestion and I’m given drugs to slow mine down!

I took Reglan and had an adverse reaction to it. My doc prescribed it and said to be careful if I had any problems with motion - to get off of it and call him right away. I thought this meant dizziness and stuff. Nope, he meant if my legs and arms started moving uncontrollably (they did.) I had other issues with it too.

If they put you on it, I hope your experience is better than mine.

There are some other treatments, or at least there was one experimental treatment back when I was researching it. Basically they put in a pacemaker for the stomach. It might be worth asking about. Since my problems turned out to be something different, I did not follow up on the trials.