Scintigraphic Evaluation of Gastric Emptying
Patrice K. Rehm, MD
Nuclear medicine evaluation of gastric motility in adults is an extremely useful but often underutilized procedure. Underutilization undoubtedly results from a number of factors and misunderstandings. The purpose of this article is to change attitudes and make gastric emptying studies user-friendly for patients and radiologists. The images, lacking the anatomic detail so appealing to radiologists, could be considered relatively “ugly” and featureless even when compared with other scintigraphic examinations, such as bone or hepatobiliary scans. Perhaps equally unappealing to radiologists and patients is the idea of a breakfast meal of radioactive liver eaten after an overnight fast. It is possible that the number of imaging protocols and variety of radiolabeled meals appear challenging. The different protocols have different “normal values” that are dependent on the scan technique and meal, which can make it difficult to compare results between institutions. In the case of gastric emptying studies, too many options can be a disadvantage.