Gastroparesis (gastro- from Ancient Greek γαστήρ – gaster, “stomach”; and -paresis, πάρεσις – “partial paralysis”), also called delayed gastric emptying, is a medical disorder consisting of weak muscular contractions (peristalsis) of the stomach, resulting in food and liquid remaining in the stomach for a prolonged period of time. Stomach contents thus exit more slowly into the duodenum of the digestive tract. This can result in irregular absorption of nutrients, inadequate nutrition, and poor glycemic control.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, feeling full soon after beginning to eat (early satiety), abdominal bloating, and heartburn. The most common known mechanism is autonomic neuropathy of the nerve which innervates the stomach: the vagus nerve. Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus is a major cause of this nerve damage; other causes include post-infectious and trauma to the vagus nerve.
Diagnosis is via one or more of the following: barium swallow X-ray, barium beefsteak meal, radioisotope gastric-emptying scan, gastric manometry, and esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). Complications include malnutrition, fatigue, weight loss, vitamin deficiencies, intestinal obstruction due to bezoars, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth.
Treatment includes dietary modifications, medications to stimulate gastric emptying, medications to reduce vomiting, and surgical approaches.