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J Lab Clin Med. 1998 Dec;132(6):541-6.

Prevalence of impaired gastric emptying of solids in systemic sclerosis: diagnostic and therapeutic implications.

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Department of Medicine and Diagnostic Imaging, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


The aims of this study were to evaluate the gastric emptying of solids in patients with progressive systemic sclerosis, correlate the esophageal motility abnormalities with their gastric emptying status, delineate the symptoms suggestive of abnormal gastric emptying, and assess the effect of metoclopramide in patients with abnormally slow gastric emptying. Twenty patients underwent esophageal motility evaluation and gastric emptying studies with a radiolabeled solid meal. Gastric emptying was also measured in 13 healthy volunteers. Four patients in whom esophageal motility was normal also had an accompanying normal rate of gastric emptying. In 16 patients with abnormal esophageal motility, mean gastric emptying was significantly delayed as compared with that in normal subjects (67.4% vs 49.8% retention of isotope at 2 hours, P < .05). Ten patients had absolute criteria for slow gastric emptying (>+2 SD). However, only postprandial bloating and early satiety were symptoms that accurately predicted slow radionuclide emptying. In four of these patients in whom gastric emptying was slow, 10 mg intramuscular metoclopramide significantly (P < .05 vs baseline) accelerated the gastric emptying of the same test meal. We conclude that (1) gastric emptying of solids was delayed in approximately two thirds of patients with abnormal esophageal motility, whereas it was normal in patients with normal esophageal motor function; (2) metoclopramide significantly accelerated this slow gastric emptying; and (3) delayed gastric emptying contributes to the severity of the gastroesophageal reflux frequently present in patients with progressive systemic sclerosis, and promotility agents offer a valuable therapeutic approach.

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