Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention of Gastroparesis

Dr. Lakshmi Venkataraman
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Lakshmi Venkataraman, MD
Last Updated on Jun 13, 2019
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How do you Diagnose Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is diagnosed by taking a detailed medical history of the patient and performing some specialized tests.

  • Blood tests - Full blood count, electrolyte levels, albumin, HbA1C, ferritin, vitamin B-12, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, thyroid function tests
  • Abdominal ultrasound - During an ultrasound, reflected sound waves create an image of the internal organs to detect if abnormalities are present
  • Upper GI (gastrointestinal) endoscopy - A long, thin, flexible tube with a camera and a light source is used to see inside the stomach
  • Radioisotope gastric emptying scan (gastric scintigraphy) - This test involves intake of food that contains a very small amount of radioactive substance which can be seen on a scanning machine to determine the rate at which food leaves the stomach
  • Electrogastrography (EGG) - This test is used to detect electrical rhythm abnormalities of the stomach

How can you Treat Gastroparesis?

Finding and treating the underlying cause is the first step in gastroparesis treatment. If gastroparesis is due to diabetes then managing blood sugar levels is usually the first step in treating individuals with gastroparesis

Treatment Goal for Gastroparesis is to Manage Your Blood Glucose Levels
  • Gastroparesis treatment diet - includes eating small healthy meals, eating foods low in fiber and fat, chewing food thoroughly, eating well-cooked fruits and vegetables instead of raw ones, avoiding fizzy beverages and alcohol, drinking plenty of water and liquids such as fruit and vegetable juices, clear soups
  • Gastroparesis natural treatment includes intake of probiotics, yogurt, liquid nutritional supplements and avoiding constipation. Ginger is a traditional natural treatment for nausea. Acupuncture and deep relaxation techniques have shown to reduce gastroparesis symptoms
  • Gastroparesis medications - Drugs such as Promethazine and Metaclopramide are used to reduce nausea and vomiting, Erythromycin, an antibiotic also helps the stomach muscles to contract and propel the food out of the stomach
  • Gastroparesis pain management - Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), tricyclic antidepressant medications may reduce pain associated with gastroparesis
  • Lifestyle changes - Quitting smoking and alcohol, engaging in gentle physical activity such as walking after eating and avoiding lying down within three hours of eating
  • Intravenous nutrition - The nutrients go directly into the bloodstream via a catheter placed into a vein
  • Jejunostomy tube - A tube is inserted into the small intestine via the abdomen and delivers nutrients directly to the small intestine bypassing the stomach
  • Botulinum toxin - may be injected into the pyloric valve to relax the muscles and keep the valve open for a longer time
  • Electrical gastric stimulation - This procedure is used to increase stomach contractions by applying electric pulses to the nerves and smooth muscles of the stomach
  • Gastroparesis surgery - Partial or total gastrectomy may initially lessen some symptoms of gastroparesis but in long run it has serious complications

How to Prevent Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis can be prevented by keeping your blood sugar levels within normal range, planning healthy meals, avoiding junk foods and aerated beverages and regular physical activity. In idiopathic gastroparesis where the cause is unknown it may be difficult to prevent gastroparesis.

References:

  1. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases-Digestive diseases- Gastroparesis - (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gastroparesis/all-content)
  2. Treatment options for patients with severe gastroparesis - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1954884/)
  3. American Diabetes Organisation- Living with Diabetes - (http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/gastroparesis.html)
  4. National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)- Gastroparesis - (https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/gastroparesis/)
  5. American College of Gastroenterology - (https://gi.org/topics/gastroparesis/)
  6. National Health Service [NHS]- gastroparesis - (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gastroparesis/)
  7. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders-Dietary & Lifestyle Measures - (https://aboutgastroparesis.org/dietary-lifestyle-measures.html)
  8. International foundation for gastrointestinal disorders- gastroparesis - (https://aboutgastroparesis.org/what-can-be-done-when-treatments-don-t-seem-to-help.html)

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