Munson Health

Back to Document

by Mahnke D

(Delayed Gastric Emptying)


Risk Factors

The main risk factor is diabetes . Diabetes can damage the vagus nerve, which may lead to gastroparesis. High blood sugar can also damage blood vessels that carry nutrients and oxygen to the vagus nerve, preventing it from working properly. Other risk factors include:
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Surgery that involves the stomach or vagus nerve
  • Taking certain medicines (eg, anticholinergics or narcotics)
  • Infection from a virus
  • Diseases affecting the nerves, muscles, or hormones
  • Diseases affecting metabolism (body’s ability to make and use energy)
  • Chronic disease
  • Anorexia or bulimia
  • Radiation or chemotherapy
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. The doctor may do:


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

Alternative Nutrition

In severe cases, you may need to have nutrients delivered directly to your intestines (skipping the stomach) or directly to your bloodstream. Feeding tubes may be inserted down your throat or through your abdomen and into your intestines to help deliver food. Nutrients may also be given through a thin tube that is placed in one of your veins.


You may be given medicines that treat your symptoms and help your stomach empty. These medicines work by stimulating the stomach muscles to contract. Examples include:
  • Metoclopramide (Reglan)
  • Erythromycin
Other medicines may be prescribed to reduce nausea.


In severe cases, your doctor may consider surgery. This may include removing part of the stomach .


American College of Gastroenterology

American Gastroenterological Association



Canadian Institute for Health Information

Health Canada



DynaMed Editors. Gastroparesis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated November 29, 2010. Accessed April 4, 2011.

Fox J, Foxx-Orenstein A. Gastroparesis. The American College of Gastroenterology website. Available at: . Accessed April 4, 2011.

Gastroparesis. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: . Updated July 2007. Accessed April 4, 2011.

Shakil A, Church RJ, Rao SS. Gastrointestinal complications of diabetes. Am Fam Physician . 2008;77(12):1697-1702.

Soykan I, Sivri B, Sarosiek I, Kiernan B, McCallum RW. Demography, clinical characteristics, psychological and abuse profiles, treatment, and long-term follow-up of patients with gastroparesis. Dig Dis Sci . 1998;43(11):2398-2404.


Revision Information