Diagnostic evidence or symptoms of gastroparesis develop in about 20% to 30% of patients with long-standing diabetes. Diabetic gastroparesis is likely caused by autonomic neuropathy involving the nerves that regulate gastric motor function. The following are necessary for diagnosis: thorough history taking and physical examination to eliminate factors that might further delay gastric emptying; esophagogastroduodenoscopy or barium contrast studies to exclude structural abnormalities; and a radionuclide gastric emptying study. The three main agents available for therapy in the United States are metoclopramide (Maxolon, Octamide, Reglan), erythromycin, and cisapride (Propulsid). All have been shown to offer benefit in improving gastric emptying and symptoms, although use of metoclopramide is limited by a significant incidence of side effects. Surgical intervention should be avoided if possible.
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