Erythromycin improves emptying of the denervated stomach after oesophagectomy

Br J Surg. 1993 Jul;80(7):879-81. doi: 10.1002/bjs.1800800726.


Oesophagectomy, necessitating vagotomy, is associated with delayed gastric emptying. Cisapride and erythromycin have prokinetic effects and improve emptying of the innervated stomach. Their effect on the denervated stomach following oesophagectomy is unknown. The effect of pyloroplasty, cisapride and erythromycin on the rate of gastric emptying after oesophagectomy was studied using a radiolabelled meal. Oesophagectomy was associated with a marked delay in gastric emptying (56 per cent of the test meal remaining after 4 h) compared with age- and sex-matched normal controls (16 per cent; P < 0.001). Erythromycin improved the rate of gastric emptying to preoperative control values (18 per cent). Cisapride had no significant effect on gastric emptying. After pyloroplasty, 32 per cent of the label remained at 4 h (P = 0.065). The mean(s.e.m.) half-emptying time in patients receiving erythromycin was 94(29) min, which was similar to control values, 55(3) min (P = 0.26). Erythromycin may have a role in the treatment of gastric stasis following oesophagectomy or truncal vagotomy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cisapride
  • Erythromycin / pharmacology*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Esophagectomy / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Gastric Emptying / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Pylorus / surgery
  • Serotonin Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Stomach Diseases / drug therapy
  • Stomach Diseases / etiology
  • Stomach Diseases / surgery
  • Vagotomy / adverse effects*


  • Piperidines
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Erythromycin
  • Cisapride