Background: Emesis and hyperemesis are significant problems associated with early pregnancy. However, gastric emptying of solids has never been studied during early pregnancy in humans.
Aim: To investigate gastric emptying of solids in patients recovering from hyperemesis gravidarum and in non-dyspeptic pregnant women and to compare these results with a group of healthy non-pregnant women.
Methods: Fourteen patients with hyperemesis gravidarum, 10 non-dyspeptic pregnant women and 36 non-pregnant women in the first half of the menstrual cycle underwent a gastric emptying study. Seven non-pregnant women repeated the test in the post-ovulatory period.
Results: Gastric emptying of solids was not significantly delayed in non-dyspeptic pregnant women compared with non-pregnant women. The emptying rate tended to be impaired in the post-ovulatory period of the menstrual cycle. Solid emptying was significantly accelerated in patients recovering from hyperemesis gravidarum, correlating well with thyroid function in the latter group.
Conclusion: Pregnancy in humans is not associated with decreased solid gastric emptying. In subjects recovering from hyperemesis gravidarum, solid emptying is increased, correlating well with thyroid function abnormalities. Nausea and vomiting in hyperemesis are therefore probably not due to upper gastrointestinal disorders.