Gastric emptying is slow in chronic fatigue syndrome

BMC Gastroenterol. 2004 Dec 26:4:32. doi: 10.1186/1471-230X-4-32.


Background: Gastrointestinal symptoms are common in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The objective of this study was to determine the frequency of these symptoms and explore their relationship with objective (radionuclide) studies of upper GI function.

Methods: Thirty-two (32) patients with CFS and 45 control subjects completed a questionnaire on upper GI symptoms, and the 32 patients underwent oesophageal clearance, and simultaneous liquid and solid gastric emptying studies using radionuclide techniques compared with historical controls.

Results: The questionnaires showed a significant difference in gastric (p > 0.01) symptoms and swallowing difficulty. Nocturnal diarrhoea was a significant symptom not previously reported.5/32 CFS subjects showed slightly delayed oesophageal clearance, but overall there was no significant difference from the control subjects, nor correlation of oesophageal clearance with symptoms. 23/32 patients showed a delay in liquid gastric emptying, and 12/32 a delay in solid gastric emptying with the delay significantly correlated with the mean symptom score (for each p < 0.001).

Conclusions: GI symptoms in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome are associated with objective changes of upper GI motility.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / complications
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastric Emptying*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myoelectric Complex, Migrating
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Reference Values
  • Stomach / diagnostic imaging
  • Stomach / physiopathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sulfur Colloid


  • Technetium Tc 99m Sulfur Colloid