Nuclear Medicine Gastric Emptying

If there is a possibility of pregnancy or breastfeeding, please inform the technologist prior to the date of your examination.

What to expect

​​ A gastric emptying scan (GES) is a nuclear medicine exam that uses a radioactive material that you will eat in a meal. You will eat this meal in the Radiology department before your scan. The radioactive material allows doctors to see how your stomach empties.

This scan is used to help diagnose conditions called motility disorders.​ These are conditions that change the way the stomach contracts and moves food into your intestines. A GES is a form of radiology, because radiation is used to take pictures of your body.

Do not eat or drink after midnight. The scan will take approximately 2 hours.

  • You will need to fast for 6 hours before the scan.
  • If you smoke, do not smoke the morning of the test and during the hours of the scan.
  • If you are a woman and you are still menstruating, it is best to have your scan done in the first 10 days of your menstrual cycle.
  • Do not take these drugs for at least 2 days before your test, unless your doctor tells you otherwise:
    • ​​ Drugs called prokinetic agents that speed up the motility of your GI tract. Some of these are metoclopramide (Reglan), erythromycin, tegaserod (Zelnorm), and domperidone (Motilium).
    • Drugs called anticholinergic antispasmodic agents that slow down the motility of your GI  tract. Some of these are Bentyl, Donnatal, Levsin, Robinul, and Hyosyne.
    • Pain medicines called opiate analgesics. Some of these are codeine, demerol, Percocet (Oxycodone), Tylenol #3, Tylox, Oxycontin, Percodan, Fentanyl patch, morphine, Methadone, Vicodin (Hydrocodone), and Ultram (Tramadol).
    • Marijuana.
  • Do not take any laxatives the day before or any time during the test.

Note: It is OK to take relaxants(called benzodiazepines)such as Ativan, Valium, Librium, Xanax, and others. It is also OK to takeanti-nausea medicines (called phenothiazines) such as Thorazine, Compazine, Phenergan, and others. These drugs do not affect gastric emptying.

If You Have Diabetes

On the day of the test:

  • Your fasting blood glucose should be less than 275 mg/dL. A technologist will check your blood glucose before your test starts.
  • Please bring your insulin or other diabetes medicine with you. You may need to take it with your gastric emptying meal.

On the day of your exam

Please arrive approximately 15 minutes prior to your appointment time to allow for parking and registration. If you bring friends or family to the appointment they will be asked to have a seat in a waiting room during your test. Children cannot be left unattended during the test, so please arrange for a caregiver.

The procedure

A small amount of radioactive material is mixed into a meal consisting of 2 cooked eggs, toast and orange juice. You will be asked to eat this as quickly as possible (within 5- 10 minutes). After eating, you will be asked to lie flat on your back while the gamma camera take a picture of your stomach. You must lie still when the camera is taking pictures. If you move, the pictures will be blurry and may have to be taken again.

After the exam

Drink plenty of water to help your body get rid of the tracer. Most of it will leave your body in your urine or stool. The rest will go away over time.


Our radiologist will study your examination and a report will be forwarded to your practitioner, from whom you may obtain the results. If you have any questions regarding this procedure, please contact our department at at 608-342-4745.

Your Appointment

The radiology department will call you the day before the test to notify you with the time of your appointment. If you cannot be reached before 10 pm the test will be cancelled.

Date of appointment _______________________________________ 

Your procedure will be performed at Southwest Health at 1400 Eastside Road – Platteville, WI 53818. Please use the Main Hospital Entrance and check in at the Registration Desk prior to your scheduled procedure.

If you cannot keep your appointment please contact the radiology department at 608-342-4745 so that me may accommodate another patient.

NOTE: It may take 2-3 days to obtain verification from your insurance company for exams that require prior authorization, such as CT, MRI, Nuclear Stress, Injections, etc.