Gastric Emptying Study – Reflux Severity Marker

Let’s talk about the gastric emptying scan, an important marker for reflux disease. The gastric emptying scan can be done in one of two ways. You can either be in a radiological facility where you will be asked to eat a radioactive nuclear egg, and then they’ll watch that leave your stomach over four hours. Another more common test that we’re doing these days is called the gastric emptying breath test, where you eat basically a mixture of eggs and Spirulina, which is a type of algae which is labeled with Carbon-13, and some Saltines. However instead of being in a machine to detect radioactivity in this case you will be asked to breathe into a tube for a few seconds over approximately four hours.

With either of these tests, we’re trying to see how fast or how slow the stomach empties. This is very important since we know that approximately 40 to 45 percent of patients with refractory reflux disease will have this problem with slow emptying, otherwise known as gastroparesis.

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