Gastric emptying in diabetes mellitus: relationship to blood-glucose control

Clin Geriatr Med. 1999 May;15(2):321-38.


The application of novel investigative techniques has established that disordered gastric motility is a frequent complication of diabetes mellitus. Thus, gastric emptying of solid or nutrient liquid meals is abnormal in 30% to 50% of randomly selected outpatients with long-standing type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Delayed gastric emptying occurs more frequently than rapid emptying. There is increasing evidence that disordered gastric motility has a major impact on the management of patients with diabetes mellitus by leading to gastrointestinal symptoms and poor glycemic control. Although both gastroparesis and upper gastrointestinal symptoms have been attributed to irreversible autonomic damage, it is now clear that acute changes in the blood-glucose concentration have a major effect on both gastrointestinal motor function and the perception of sensations arising in the gut. For example, there is an inverse relationship between the rate of gastric emptying and the blood-glucose concentration, so that gastric emptying is slower during hyperglycemia and accelerated during hypoglycemia. This article reviews some issues in the etiology, diagnosis, and management of problems associated with gastric emptying in elderly persons with diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Female
  • Gastric Emptying*
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stomach Diseases / epidemiology
  • Stomach Diseases / etiology*
  • Stomach Diseases / physiopathology
  • Stomach Diseases / therapy*