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Alternative names

Gastroparesis diabeticorum; Delayed gastric emptying


Gastroparesis is a condition in which the stomach's ability to empty its contents is impaired, unrelated to obstruction.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause is unknown, but disruption of nerve stimulation to the intestine may be responsible. The condition is a common complication of diabetes and can be a complication of some surgeries. Risk factors for gastroparesis include diabetes, systemic sclerosis , previous vagotomy, previous gastrectomy , visceral neuropathy, and use of anticholinergic medication.


  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal distention
  • abdominal fullness prematurely after meals
  • poor control of blood sugar in diabetics
  • weight loss

Signs and tests

  • an isotope study showing gastroparesis
  • an upper GI series showing gastric retention
  • an EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy)


Dietary management with small meals and soft foods (which should be well cooked and well chewed) may be of benefit. Medications seem to provide little long-term benefit. Metoclopramide and cholinergic medications can be used. Some cases respond to botulinum toxin ("botox") injection into the pylorus (outlet of the stomach). In some people, gastroenterostomy may be of benefit.

Expectations (prognosis)

Many treatments seem to provide only temporary benefit.


Persistent nausea and vomiting can cause electrolyte imbalances , dehydration , and malnutrition. Diabetics may have serious complications related to poor blood sugar control.

Calling your health care provider

Apply home treatment such as dietary management first and call your health care provider if symptoms persist or if there are signs of complications or new symptoms.

Update Date: 4/25/2002

Andrew J. Muir, M.D. M.H.S., Division of Gastroenterology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT