How Do Doctors Diagnose Gastroparesis?

Your pediatric gastroenterologist at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital Center for Digestive Health and Nutrition will ask about your child’s symptoms and do a physical exam. They will also ask about other health problems, such as diabetes, and whether your child has had any digestive tract surgeries.

 

Gastroparesis symptoms are similar to those of other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and cyclic vomiting syndrome, and your child’s doctor will do tests to rule out them out. These tests may include:

 

  • Blood tests. These tests can show signs of inflammation, infection and also blood glucose levels.
  • Upper endoscopy. During this test, while your child is sedated, doctors pass a thin, flexible tube with a camera through their mouth and into their stomach. It can show blockages in the stomach and other conditions.
  • Barium study. For this test, your child swallows a chalky liquid called barium, which is then tracked through the upper part of their digestive system with X-rays. This test is also called an upper GI.
  • Abdominal ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to create detailed images of your child’s internal organs to spot any problem areas.

 

Once your child’s doctor has ruled out other disorders, they will do tests to determine how well your child’s stomach empties. Your child may have one or more of the following tests:

 

  • Gastric emptying scintigraphy test. For this test, your child eats a small meal that has a small amount of a harmless radioactive substance added to it. For babies, the meal can be milk or formula. A camera outside their body tracks the movement of the substance, showing how fast their stomach empties after a meal.
  • Antral-duodenal motility test. This test measures the coordination and strength of contractions at the bottom of your child’s stomach where it empties into the small intestine. The doctor passes a flexible tube through your child’s nose, down their throat and into their small intestine. The tube has pressure sensors that measure how well the muscles are working to move food out of the stomach.