Clinical Characterization of Pediatric Gastroparesis Using a Four-hour Gastric Emptying Scintigraphy Standard

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2021 Jun 1;72(6):848-853. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000003089.


Objectives: Four-hour gastric emptying scintigraphy (GES) is the recommended method to identify both adult and childhood gastroparesis (GP). Previous pediatric studies have, however, not used this standard. We sought to determine the characteristics and outcomes of children versus adolescents with GP using the 4-hour GES evaluation.

Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review of pediatric patients diagnosed with GP by 4-hour GES (>10% retention at 4 hours). Demographics, body mass index, GP-related symptoms, comorbidities, etiologies, therapies (eg, medications), healthcare utilization, and response to therapy were captured systematically. Symptoms were compared from the initial versus last gastroenterology visit. Outcomes were categorized as no improvement; improvement (resolution of at least 1 symptom while remaining on therapy); and complete resolution of symptoms.

Results: A total of 239 subjects (12.1 ± 4.1 years [mean ± standard deviation], 70% girls) were included. The identified characteristics of childhood GP were broad with idiopathic GP being the most common etiology. Outcomes over a median of 22 months (25%-75%: 9.0-45.5 months) were 34.8% no improvement, 34.8% some improvement, and 30.3% with complete symptom resolution. Compared to younger children, adolescents had a higher female predominance (P < 0.01) and were more likely to have nausea (P = 0.006). Girls were more likely to have abdominal pain (P = 0.001), nausea (P = 0.03), and a documented diagnosis of dysautonomia (P = 0.03). Boys were more likely to have regurgitation (P = 0.006), gastroesophageal reflux disease (P = 0.02), and rumination (P = 0.02).

Conclusions: Using the 4-hour GES standard, childhood GP has broad clinical characteristics and outcomes. There are several significant age- and sex-based differences in childhood GP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gastric Emptying
  • Gastroparesis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nausea / etiology
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Retrospective Studies