Evaluation of an inexpensive screening scintigraphic test of gastric emptying

G. N. Thomforde, M. Camilleri, S. F. Phillips, L. A. Forstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Our goal was to study the accuracy of a limited assessment relative to the traditional and obtain a more detailed approach to measure gastric emptying. Methods: We prospectively evaluated 35 patients referred to our laboratory with suspected fast or slow gastric emptying. Transit was measured radioscintigraphically after ingestion of an egg meal containing 99mTc- Amberlite pellets. Gastric emptying was analyzed by power exponential analysis. Diagnostic accuracy of simpler indices (gastric residual at 2 and 4 hr) was determined by comparing the categorization of patients as normal or abnormal relative to previously published normal data from our laboratory. Results: Gastric residual at 2 hr showed greater diagnostic accuracy for accelerated gastric emptying with 90% sensitivity at 90% specificity. Gastric residual at 4 hr was less accurate for accelerated emptying, but was more accurate at detecting delayed gastric emptying with 100% sensitivity at 70% specificity. In contrast, sensitivity and specificity of gastric residual at 2 hr for slow emptying were low (100% sensitivity with 20% specificity) emphasizing the importance of obtaining a scan later than 2 hr for detecting delayed gastric emptying. Conclusion: Selective scans taken at 2 and 4 hr provide an excellent screening test for detecting fast or slow gastric emptying; the accuracy of 2-hr data is optimal for accelerated emptying and that of the 4-hr data greater for delayed emptying. This strategy provides a simple, less expensive way to evaluate gastric emptying in clinical practice with acceptable sensitivity and specificity as an initial test for patients with clinically suspected gastric stasis or dumping syndromes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-96
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995


  • gastric emptying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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