Gastroparesis is a condition where the stomach contracts less often and less powerfully, causing food and liquids to stay in the stomach for a long time. Gastroparesis can be caused by viral infections, scar tissue, previous stomach surgery, some medications, neurologic problems, and endocrine problems including diabetes, adrenal problems, and thyroid disease. However, in as many as 60% of children with gastroparesis, the cause is not known.
Feeling full after only a few bites
Excessive burping or belching
Weight loss due to inability to eat
Vague abdominal pain
After taking a careful history and doing a physical examination, your doctor will decide what tests will be most helpful to sort out what is wrong with your child. A number of different tests may be done when a child has any of the symptoms listed above. These can include an upper gastrointestinal series in which the child drinks barium that outlines the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine on an x-ray. An upper endoscopy may be done. In this test, a flexible tube called an endoscope allows your doctor to look at the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). Often the most helpful test is a gastric emptying study which is a nuclear medicine x-ray test. The child eats food mixed with a small, very safe amount of a radioactive substance. This allows the radiologist (x-ray doctor) to figure out how quickly or slowly food leaves the stomach.
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