Delayed gastric emptying in anorexia nervosa is improved by completion of a renutrition program

Dig Dis Sci. 1988 Aug;33(8):919-25. doi: 10.1007/BF01535985.


The effects of renutrition on gastric emptying and upper gastrointestinal symptoms were evaluated in 14 anorexia nervosa patients before and after weight gain. A double-isotope technique was used to measure gastric emptying of both the solid and the liquid phases of the meal. Upper gastrointestinal symptoms were frequent before renutrition, occurring in 78% of the patients. Among these symptoms, nausea, vomiting and gastric fullness were correlated well with slowing in gastric emptying of both solid and liquid phases of the meal, which was demonstrated, respectively, in 10 (71%) and nine (64%) of the 14 patients. For the 11 patients who subsequently gained body weight, we observed, without any pharmacological treatment, an improvement of gastric emptying of both solid and liquid phases of the meal in eight (73%) and seven (64%) patients, respectively. Gastric emptying was unchanged in the three other patients who gained very little weight during the time of the study. As gastric emptying improved, so did nausea, vomiting, and gastric fullness. In three patients who had initially gained weight, nausea and gastric fullness recurred, associated again in all cases with a delay in gastric emptying. In conclusion, in anorexia nervosa, delayed gastric emptying, which is a frequent feature and which is well correlated with some of the upper digestive complaints, can return to normal without any pharmacological treatment. In this improvement, psychological assistance may play a role, together with the correction of the malnutrition.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / complications
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diet therapy
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology*
  • Body Weight
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Gastric Emptying*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nausea / physiopathology
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Recurrence
  • Time Factors
  • Vomiting / physiopathology