Nuclear Medicine Procedures: Gastric Emptying Test (GET)

Description

A gastric emptying test (GET) looks at the motility of a patient's stomach. The patient eats a meal of scrambled eggs, which contain a small amount of radioactivity, two pieces of whole-wheat toast, two small packages of grape jelly and four ounces of water. A gamma camera, which makes images from emitted gamma radiation, will take images of the patient's stomach from the front and back for one minute every four hours. 

Expectations

The patient must eat the meal within 15 minutes. The first image is taken immediately after the meal, with subsequent images taken every hour for four hours, for a total of five sets of images. The entire procedure takes a little more than four hours.

Preparation

The patient may take nothing by mouth for four hours before the procedure. Patients can follow their regular activity levels prior to the test. After checking with their doctors, patients will need to stop taking motility or other gastric-related drugs prior to the test, unless otherwise instructed. After eating the scrambled eggs, the patient may not eat until the GET is complete. If a patient becomes ill (e.g., vomits) at any time during the test, the study will be terminated. 

Limitations

Because the patient usually stands upright for a GET, there is no exam table. For patients who must use the exam table, the table's weight limit is 300 pounds. Patients who have had previous nuclear medicine exams may need to wait a few days before receiving a GET, depending upon the isotope received in the previous exam.

Scheduling

GETs are scheduled every hour from 7 a.m.- noon Monday through Friday at the main hospital campus and The University of Kansas Cancer Center - South location.

Clinical Considerations

Gastroenterologists use this test to determine if the patient has increased or decreased gastric motility. For patients with delayed gastric motility, the physician may prescribe motility-enhancing drugs.

Sedation Considerations

Patients cannot be sedated during a GET.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a GET make me radioactive?

You receive a tiny amount of radiopharmaceutical. Usually, it loses its radioactivity within hours, and will pass out of the body within 24 hours.

Do GETs hurt?

GETs are painless.

Who should not receive a GET?

Generally, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not receive this procedure. It is safe for most other patients.

Physician Spotlight


Michael Crosser, MD

Clinical Focus
General Pulmonary

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