Updated: August 15, 2020
Gastroparesis refers to stomach paralysis. GP also called delayed gastric emptying in which food remains in the stomach for an abnormally long time. It is a digestive disorder in which the motility of the stomach is either abnormal or absent. In healthy people the stomach contracts to move food down into the small intestine for further digestion and absorption of nutrients. The vagus nerve controls these contractions. Gastroparesis may occur when the vagus nerve is damaged and the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not properly function. Food then moves slowly or stops moving through the digestive tract preventing your stomach from emptying properly.
Causes of Gastroparesis includes:
High levels of blood glucose may effect chemical changes in the nerves. The vagus nerve becomes damaged by prolonged high blood glucose or insufficient transport of glucose into cells resulting in gastroparesis.
Surgery may injured the vagus nerve causing gastroparesis.
Nervous system diseases or multiple sclerosis may be a cause of gastroparesis.
Gastroparesis may occur due to connective tissue diseases such as scleroderma and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
Low thyroid can cause gastroparesis.
Heavy cigarette smoking is also a possible cause since smoking causes damage to the stomach lining.
Complications of Gastroparesis includes:
Gastroparesis can be diagnosed with several tests such as
In this test a contrast radiograph is used to find out any blockage such as inflammation in the small intestine which is resulting in a back up of material and could account for delayed gastric emptying.
In this test a thin tube is passed through your mouth and into the stomach which measures the stomach's electrical and muscular activity to determine the rate of digestion.
This procedure involves passing a thin tube called endoscope down the esophagus to examine the lining of the stomach.
In this test a non-digestible capsule is swallowed that records pH, temperature and pressure changes as it travels through the intestine .
You eat food that contains a very small amount of radioactive substance, which is measured by a scanning technique as it empties from the stomach. If the scan shows that even after 4 hours of your eating, more than 10% of food is still in your stomach then you are diagnosed with gastroparesis.
This test measures electrical activity in the stomach using electrodes placed on the skin.