Gastric Emptying Study

What is Gastric Emptying Study?

Gastric Emptying Study is an examination to find out the rate of emptying of the contents of the stomach (solid or liquid), as various medical conditions may affect the rate.


To prepare for the exam, it is very important that you do not eat, drink or smoke at all from midnight before the appointment time. If preparation is not followed, the exam may be cancelled. If you are diabetic or if you take regular prescription medicine that needs to be taken with or after food, please contact us to discuss how to prepare for the examination. Please ensure that you have no other gastric tests performed to you for 72h prior to the scan.


If you are pregnant or breastfeeding it is essential that you let us know before your appointment date. If you are a female of child bearing age (12-55 years old), you will be asked about your pregnancy and breastfeeding status. If you are unable to confirm you are not pregnant a pregnancy test may be performed.


All patients are entitled to have a chaperone present for any consultation, examination or procedure where they feel one is required. This chaperone may be a family member or friend. On occasions you may prefer a formal chaperone to be present (ie. trained member of staff).

The examination

Upon your arrival a radiographer will explain procedure to you and will ask you a few questions about your health records. You will then you be asked to eat a specially prepared meal. The meal is labelled with a small amount of radioactive tracer which is carried through the stomach to your bowels and emits very low level of radiation which will be detected by a piece of equipment called a gamma camera.

After you have completed the meal, a 1 minute image will be acquired. This will be repeated up at various time intervals up until 150 minutes. The machine is very quiet and you do not go through a tube or tunnel.

Please contact us if you have any dietary intolerance, to the food substances mentioned above.

You do not need to undress for the examination, but you may need to remove metal objects from your clothing or upper pockets, such as jewellery and/or belts as these will interfere with the quality of pictures.

How long will it take?

The meal ingestion time will depend on you, but is limited to 10 minutes.

You are free to leave the department/hospital in the gap between image acquisitions, but it is very important that you do not eat, drink or smoke until after the test is complete.

Who will be present?

Your scan will be performed by a Nuclear Medicine trained member of staff which stays with you in the room while scanning. In addition we might have students in our department, and they will observe the procedure if you give your permission.

Is radioactivity dangerous?

The amount of radiation involved is similar to that from an x-ray examination. The radioactivity naturally disperses from the body and is largely gone in 24 hours. The very low risk involved is balanced against the benefit of the information the examination provides for your doctors.