Dr MJ (Ria) Bester


Motility Studies


What is a gastric emptying scan?

A gastric emptying scan or gastric emptying test, involves determining the rate at which food leaves the stomach.

Why is it performed?

These kinds of scans are performed in order to diagnose a condition called gastroparesis (as in some cases of diabetic patients or after gastric surgery), in which the stomach muscles do not work as they should. This results in delayed gastric emptying. Patients with this condition suffer from symptoms like feeling bloated, abdominal pain and frequent vomiting, due to a delay in food getting to the small intestine. The scan can also be requested for patients with diarrhoea and weight loss ("dumping syndrome").

How does it work?

You should not drink or eat for at least 6h prior to the scan. Before the scan is conducted, you will be asked to eat some food to which a small amount of radioactive tracer was added. The radioactive tracer will enter the body, and follow the food through the digestive process. Images will be taken as the material moves through the body, allowing your doctor to see where it is moving. A gastric emptying scan can take up to three hours, and several images will be taken over this time.

If you have gastroparesis, the food and the radioactive tracer will stay in the stomach much longer than it should before it moves into the gastric intestine. If the food remains in the stomach, the scan will pick this up, and your doctor will be able to evaluate the abnormality. In this case, if gastroparesis is diagnosed, your doctor will prescribe suitable medication to speed up the digestive process and improve any uncomfortable symptoms you may be experiencing.

Gastric Emptying

Click image to view


Dr Ria Bester is a nuclear medicine specialist based in Bellville, Cape Town. Dedicated to the practice of nuclear medicine and its benefits, Dr Bester and her team are able to provide patients with a wide range of services.
These include skeletal scans, infection imaging, thyroid scans, gastric emptying, "milk scans" to evaluate gastro-oesophageal reflux in children, hepato-biliary scans, blood volume studies, renograms and renal scans, as well as lung, cardiac and sentinel node scans in patients with breast carcinoma and melanoma.


021-945 3420 / 021-945 3421

021 595-1201 / 021 595-1202

Email: ria@riabester.co.za
Accounts: accounts@riabester.co.za