Diagnosis and management of gastric emptying disorders.

K. E. Behrns, M. G. Sarr

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


In summary, although gastric emptying disorders are relatively uncommon, they are potentially devastating conditions resulting from pathophysiologic motor disturbances. Rapid gastric emptying of liquids is the hallmark of the dumping syndrome and occurs after operations, including vagotomy. Vagal denervation abolishes receptive relaxation and accommodation in the proximal stomach (the storage site for ingested liquids) resulting in increased intragastric pressure which forces liquids through an ablated or bypassed pylorus. Dumping symptoms may occur in up to 50% of postgastrectomy patients, but most patients are treated satisfactorily by dietary manipulation or, in the rare incapacitated patient, by the long-acting somatostatin analogue octreotide. Reconstructive gastric surgery may rarely be indicated to slow gastric emptying and alleviate the dumping syndrome. Reoperative procedures include pyloric reconstruction after pyloroplasty, small intestinal pouches, interposed isoperistaltic and antiperistaltic jejunal segments, and a Roux-en-Y gastrojejunostomy. Interposed jejunal loops and the Roux-en-Y gastrojejunostomy provide the most satisfactory results. Delayed gastric emptying may occur in the acute postoperative period or be a late complication of gastric surgery. Loss of vagal input to the gastric antrum and resection of the antrum with vagotomy may produce an atonic stomach or atonic gastric remnant, respectively, which fails to grind and propel solids into the small intestine. Scintigraphic imaging of both the liquid and solid components of the meal is a valuable diagnostic adjunct. Gastric ileus occurring in the early postoperative period generally resolves within 6 weeks of operation, and the temptation to reoperate on a nonobstructed stomach should be avoided. Pharmacologic therapy of chronic gastric stasis with the benzamide prokinetic agents (metoclopramide, cisapride, renzapride), domperidone, and the motilin agonist erythromycin, may be effective initially, but long-term results are still undefined, and postvagotomy and postgastrectomy patients have not been studied adequately. Persistent postoperative gastric atony and the Roux stasis syndrome should be managed surgically by near-total gastrectomy which should result in symptomatic improvement in two thirds of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-255
Number of pages23
JournalAdvances in surgery
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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