Objective: We investigated the influence of standardized postprandial walking on the rates of gastric emptying and of intragastric meal distribution in 50 consecutive patients with longstanding insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
Methods: Gastric emptying of a semisolid meal labeled with 99mTc was continuously recorded with a dual-head gamma camera with patients in the supine position for 90 min before and 20 min after a 30-min postprandial walk. Regions of interest enclosing total stomach, and proximal and distal gastric compartments were calculated to determine gastric emptying rates and intragastric meal distribution.
Results: The evaluation of gastric emptying rates before and after postprandial walking demonstrated two variants of delayed gastric emptying: one variant that was counteracted by postprandial walking in seven patients (14%, Group I) and another variant that was not influenced by postprandial walking in 11 patients (22%, Group II). In addition, the emptying rates of 28 patients (56%) were within the range of controls and in four patients the emptying was accelerated (8%). The filling of the proximal gastric compartment was predominant and remained dominant after walking in Groups I and II. In controls and in diabetics with normal gastric emptying, the preliminary predominant filling of the proximal compartment was equalized after walking and the proximal compartment regained predominance thereafter. The changes in gastric emptying characteristics from delayed to accelerated gastric emptying may be related to the duration of diabetes (r = -0.47, p<0.03) and were not indicated by symptoms of upper GI discomfort or by secondary diabetic manifestations.
Conclusion: Postprandial walking may improve gastric emptying in 14% of patients with longstanding insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.