Gastroparesis | Diagnosis & Tests


How do doctors diagnose gastroparesis?

Your doctor will start by examining you and asking you about your medical history. Be sure to tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medicines you are taking. You may have blood tests to check the quality of your blood and measure some chemical levels.

Your doctor might want to do some other tests to make sure you don’t have a blockage or another medical problem. These tests may include:

  • Upper endoscopy. Your doctor uses a flexible tube with a light at the end to look inside your throat, your esophagus and into your stomach. You will probably be given a sedative drug to make you more relaxed and comfortable during this test. Your throat will also be numbed, so you shouldn’t feel any pain.
  • Gastric emptying ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to look at the organs in your abdomen (your gallbladder, liver and pancreas) so your doctor can check for signs of problems.
  • Barium X-ray. When your stomach is mostly empty, you drink a liquid that contains a small amount of barium. The doctor can watch the barium liquid travel through your body on an X-ray machine, in order to figure out where the problem is occurring.
  • Gastric emptying studies. For these studies, you’ll eat or drink something that contains a small amount of radioactive material. A scanner is able to pick up signals from the radioactive material. This scanner keeps track of how long it takes your stomach to empty completely. Or, your breath may be tested for the radioactive material to measure how fast your stomach is emptying.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) monitoring capsule. For this test, you swallow a small capsule (or “pill”) that collects information as it moves through your digestive system. The pill sends this information to a small computer you wear around your waist or neck. After a few days, you will pass the capsule in your stool, and your doctor will study the information it collected.


Gastrointestinal Complications of Diabetes by Amer Shakil, MD, Robert J. Church, MD, and Shobha S. Rao, MD (American Family Physician June 15, 2008,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 10/09