Gastric Emptying Scan

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A gastric emptying scan is performed to evaluate the stomach’s ability to digest food. It is a nuclear medicine exam which combines a small amount of radioisotope with a pharmaceutical that is targeted to go to a specific organ. This radiopharmaceutical can be injected, inhaled or swallowed and is absorbed by specific cells within your body. Nuclear medicine exams differ from other radiological exams in that they provide both functional and structural information. The exams are very sensitive and can detect disease at its earliest stage. The exams are safe, relatively painless and the radiation exposure is similar to that of other diagnostic X-Ray exams.


Need to Know

Nice to Know
  • Please inform the technologist if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
  • You may not eat or drink for 4 hours prior to the exam
  • If a patient has an egg allergy , Ensure Plus can be used as a supplement to the meal
  • The exam will take 3 to 4 hours



What Will Happen During the Exam?

During the first portion of the exam the technologist will ask about abdominal discomfort or abdominal surgery. The technologist will then feed you a meal consisting of eggs, toast and water. The eggs have a small amount of radioactive isotope mixed in them that allows imaging the stomach’s digestive process. We will then take serial pictures, every hour, using nuclear medicine. The camera does not emit any radiation, but rather detects the radiation emitted from the radiopharmaceutical that is in the eggs. The camera is open so you are not completely surrounded and the technologist may stay in the scan room with you. You will be asked to hold still but you do not need to hold your breath. The images will later be used to generate data on a computer to determine how much of the food was digested by your stomach and passed into the small intestines. You will be asked to refrain from eating or drinking anything additional or leaving the office during the exam as either can cause the results of the exam to be invalid

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How Should I Prepare?


Please wear comfortable clothing, you will be asked to remove any metal objects especially those near your abdominal area


Your physician may want you to stop using certain medications prior to the exam. Please consult with your physician about this.

Food and Drink

You may not eat and drink for 4 hours prior to the exam and you may not eat or drink anything other than what is provided to you during the exam

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What Are the Benefits and Risks?

The benefits of Gastric Emptying Scan:

  • The Gastric Emptying Exam will allow the determination of how well your stomach is able to digest and process food in a non-invasive way.

Risks you should be aware of:

  • Patients with egg allergies cannot have the exam.
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Where Can I Get This Exam?

Gastric Emptying scan is performed at our following locations:

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