Background: Altered gastric motility is a frequent non-motor symptom of Parkinson's disease (PD). It has been hypothesized that disturbed gastric motility contributes to motor fluctuations in PD due to an erratic gastro-duodenal transport and an unpredictable absorption of drugs.
Objective: We investigated whether patient-reported fluctuations are associated with parameters of gastric motility visualized by real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the stomach.
Methods: We analyzed real-time MRI-scans of the stomach after an overnight fasting period in 16 PD patients and 20 controls. MRI was performed 1) in the fasting state, 2) directly after a test meal, and 3) 4 hours postprandially. Gastric motility indices were calculated and compared between groups.
Results: MRI showed an attenuated gastric motility in PD patients compared to controls. The difference was most obvious in the early postprandial phase. Gastric motility was not associated with patient-reported motor fluctuations. Using an iron-containing capsule we were able to retrace retention of drugs in the stomach.
Conclusion: The results of this study stress the importance of considering the phase of digestion when investigating gastric motility in PD. Despite theoretical considerations, we did not find robust evidence for an association between MRI parameters of gastric motility and patient-reported motor fluctuations. For future studies that aim to investigate gastric motility in PD by MRI, we suggest multiple short-time MRIs to better track the whole gastro-duodenal phase in PD. Such an approach would also allow to retrace the retention of drugs in the stomach as shown by our approach using an iron-containing capsule.
Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; gastrointestinal motility; real-time magnetic resonance imaging; stomach.