A gastric emptying study is a procedure performed in nuclear medicine to evaluate how quickly food is travelling through your stomach.  The test may also be used to evaluate if food is refluxing back into your esophagus (throat).

Your physician may order this test if you experience:

  • Heartburn of Acid reflux
  • Nausea
  • Pain after eating
  • Gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying)
GE Hawkeye Infinia
Equipment used for this test: GE Hawkeye Infinia


For a gastric emptying study, you are required to be fasting for 8 hours before the appointment.



Check-in at the Diagnostic Imaging Department at the Sault Area Hospital for your appointment.

To perform a gastric emptying study, you will be given a cooked egg and a piece of bread to eat.  The egg will contain a tiny amount of a radioactive tracer (99-Technesium Sulphur Colloid) that will allow us to track the egg as it moves through your stomach.  The radioactive tracer will not change the taste of the egg or bread.  Radiation exposure from this test is less than if you had a standard x-ray, and you will not notice any changes from the tracer.

Once you have eaten the egg and bread, you will be positioned on your back underneath our camera for imaging.  Images will be acquired for an hour or until at least half of the egg has moved through your stomach.  If an insufficient amount of the egg has moved through your stomach, you will be required to return every hour up to 4 hours until a sufficient amount of egg has moved through your stomach.  During this time, it is important to continue fasting.

Following your test, there are no restrictions, and you will be able to drive as you normally would.  If you plan to go into the United States of America, you will set off the radiation detectors for approximately 2-3 days.  We can provide a letter explaining why you are setting off the detectors; however, you will still be stopped.

Once your scan is complete, a radiologist will examine it, and a report will be sent to the ordering doctor within a week.  Follow up your test with the ordering physician or your family doctor.

The Camera

For a gastric emptying scan, we acquire the images using a gamma camera.  A gamma camera is a type of radiation detector used to show us how the radioactive tracer clears through your stomach.  Our cameras do not emit radiation or loud noises and are not a hazard to anyone in the vicinity while acquiring.  The cameras we use have 2 detectors: one above you and one below you.  Dual camera heads allow 2 views to be acquired simultaneously, increasing the sensitivity of the test.