Health Library
Gastric Emptying Scan

What is a Gastric Emptying Scan?

A gastric emptying scan is a test that will help the doctor find out how well your child's stomach is working.

Pictures are taken after your child eats and / or drinks a specially prepared meal. In that meal is a flavorless medicine that lets our cameras see your child’s stomach.

Gastric emptying scans can be performed with several different foods that will fit with your child’s diet. Foods used for gastric emptying scans include: Egg Beaters (egg substitute), Ensure Plus (protein drink), oatmeal, your child’s formula (including breast milk or cow’s milk), and water or juice.

Before the Test

Before coming to the hospital, read this explanation and explain to your child what will happen during the test. For young children, use simple words and explain only shortly before the test.

For this test, your child must have an empty stomach. They cannot eat or drink for four hours before the study. If your child is an infant, it is helpful to bring along a bottle of formula or juice with you for after the test. It is also recommended that you bring a pacifier, blanket or special toy to help calm your baby.

For older children, it is helpful to bring a book or toy to play with while waiting, and a movie or music for during the test. It is helpful to have another caregiver to watch your child's siblings so you can be with your child.

During the Test

Your child will eat and / or drink a special meal. Your child must eat and / or drink the meal in about 15 minutes. Then your child will lie on a soft table on their back while pictures are taken with a special camera. What your child ate will determine how pictures are taken. Most of the time, one-minute pictures are taken and your child will have breaks in between pictures. During this time, your child may not eat or drink anything else until the test is finished. Gastric emptying tests can last as long as four hours.

If your child’s doctor wants to test them for reflux, a longer one-hour picture is taken at the beginning of the test. During this one-hour picture, your child can watch a movie or play with an iPad. Small amounts of wiggling are okay.

After the Test

Your child's digestive system will eliminate the special medicine from their body. As always, you and your child should wash your hands when the child has a bowel movement or vomits.

After the test, your child may return to regular daily activities and meals. Results of the test will be sent to your child's doctor, who will contact you about the results. You can also get results of the test if your child has an account in MyChart.

Last Updated 08/2023

Reviewed By Dianne Hater
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