Pain: the overlooked symptom in gastroparesis

Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 Apr;94(4):1029-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.1999.01008.x.


Objective: Abdominal pain has not been reported generally as a significant feature of the clinical presentation of patients with gastroparesis.

Methods: Using a standardized questionnaire, we analyzed the clinical features of 28 consecutive patients referred with established or suspected gastroparesis over a 4-yr period. The diagnosis of gastroparesis was supported by abnormalities in gastric emptying studies (GES), electrogastrography (EGG), or upper endoscopy (EGD). Diagnostic tests were reviewed.

Results: A total of 12 male (mean age 39.5 yr) and 18 female patients (mean age 39.6 yr) were included in this study. These patients had been symptomatic for an average of 37.8 months before their referral to our center. Seven of these patients had insulin-dependent diabetes. Idiopathic gastroparesis was present in more than half of the patients. The symptom profile of the 28 patients was as follows: nausea, 92.9%; abdominal pain, 89.3%; early satiety, 85.7%; and vomiting, 67.9%. The pain was described as burning, vague, or crampy in nature. Only 36% localized to the upper abdomen. In all, 60% of patients complained of postprandial pain, whereas 80% complained of nocturnal pain that interfered with their normal sleeping pattern. In general, pain responded poorly or not at all to prokinetic agents.

Conclusions: Nausea and abdominal pain are the most common complaints of patients with gastroparesis. In 80% of patients, GES and EGG correlated positively.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / etiology*
  • Adult
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Electrodiagnosis
  • Endoscopy, Digestive System
  • Female
  • Gastric Emptying
  • Gastroparesis / complications*
  • Gastroparesis / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nausea / etiology
  • Selection Bias