Diabetic Gastroparesis

Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

November 26, 2018

December 22, 2022

Diabetic Gastroparesis
Diabetic Gastroparesis

What is Diabetic Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is the delayed emptying of the stomach’s contents into the small bowel. It is a disorder where the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine slows down or stops. When it occurs as a complication of diabetes, it is called diabetic gastroparesis. People with both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes may be affected. Normally, when you eat food, it gets churned further in the stomach and is then passed into the small intestine. When you suffer from gastroparesis, your stomach muscles work poorly and take too long to empty its contents.

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What are the main signs and symptoms of Diabetic Gastroparesis?

Following are the signs and symptoms of diabetic gastroparesis:

Certain medicines which reduce the motility of the stomach worsen the symptoms of gastroparesis.

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What are the main causes of Diabetic Gastroparesis?

In most cases, the underlying cause of gastroparesis is not known. However, diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis. Diabetes can damage the vagus nerve which innervates the muscles of the stomach. When the vagus nerve is damaged or does not function, the muscles of the stomach and small intestine do not work normally.

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How is Diabetic Gastroparesis diagnosed and treated?

Your doctor will take a detailed medical history including the types of medicines you take, any history of surgery or any other health problems. Complete physical examination will be done including checking blood pressure and temperature, listening for unusual abdominal sounds and looking for any signs of dehydration.

Tests done include:

  • 4-hour gastric emptying scintigraphy – This procedure uses special radioactive material to identify abnormalities with gastric emptying.
  • Ultrasonography and MRI can help with information on emptying of the stomach, but requires expertise.
  • Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging may also be used for the diagnosis of gastroparesis.

Diabetic gastroparesis is best treated by controlling your blood glucose levels with insulin. Prokinetics and antiemetics might be used to hasten the movement of food from the stomach to the small bowel. It is also advised to eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly, eat small meals, sit upright after meals and take a walk after meals. Avoid lying down for at least 2 hours after meals. Your doctor may advise you to reduce fat and fiber in your diet. Avoid alcohol and carbonated beverages. Drink plenty of water and electrolytes to stay well hydrated.

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  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [internet]: US Department of Health and Human Services; Diagnosis of Gastroparesis
  2. Purna Kashyap, Gianrico Farrugia. Diabetic Gastroparesis: what we have learned and had to unlearn in the past 5 years. Gut. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 Dec 1. PMID: 20871131
  3. American Diabetes Association. Gastroparesis. Arlington; [Internet]
  4. Danny J Avalos et al. Diabetic gastroparesis: current challenges and future prospects. Clin Exp Gastroenterol. 2018; 11: 347–363. PMID: 30310300
  5. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Gastroparesis