Gastroparesis (GP) is a chronic neuromuscular disorder of the upper gastrointestinal tract. The incidence of GP is not well described; however, the number of individuals affected by symptoms of GP in the United States is estimated to be over 4 million. The etiology of GP is diverse. Approximately 25% of cases are associated with diabetes, whereas nearly 50% are classified as idiopathic; many of these latter cases likely represent a postinfectious process. Connective tissue disorders, autoimmune disorders, prior gastric surgery, ischemia, and medications make up the vast majority of the remaining cases. The pathophysiology of GP is also diverse. Abnormalities in fundic tone, antroduodenal dyscoordination, a weak antral pump, gastric dysrhythmias, and abnormal duodenal feedback all contribute to delays in gastric emptying and symptom expression. Characteristic symptoms of GP include nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, early satiety, and weight loss. The diagnosis of GP is made using a combination of characteristic symptoms in conjunction with objective evidence of delayed gastric emptying in the absence of mechanical obstruction. Once the diagnosis is made, treatment options include dietary modification, medications to accelerate gastric emptying, antiemetic agents, gastric electrical stimulation, and surgery. In the following sections we will provide an overview of the health care impact of GP, describe the underlying pathophysiology, and review treatment options using an evidence-based approach.
Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH
The authors declare that they have nothing to disclose.
Reprints: Benjamin Stein, MD, Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, 1 Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, NH 03756 (e-mail: email@example.com).