Background: Chronic symptomatic gastroparesis occurs in 3-5% of patients following vagotomy and antrectomy. Erythromycin, a macrolide antibiotic, improves gastric emptying in patients with idiopathic and diabetic gastroparesis. Erythromycin's effect on gastric emptying in patients with post-vagotomy-antrectomy gastroparesis is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine if a single dose of intravenous erythromycin (1 mg/kg or 6 mg/kg) accelerates solid meal gastric emptying in patients with chronic symptomatic post-vagotomy-antrectomy gastroparesis.
Methods: Six patients were entered into the study, three males and three females, with a mean age of 50 years. Four patients were randomized to receive erythromycin 6 mg/kg and two patients 1 mg/kg. The mean time since initial surgery was 9.2 years (range 1-16 years) with five patients having undergone a Roux-en-Y revision.
Results: Intravenous erythromycin significantly lowered percentage gastric retention at 120 min, from a baseline of 90.5 +/- 6% (S.E.M.) to 40.1 +/- 4.8% after erythromycin (P = 0.0002). Erythromycin improved gastric emptying in each patient by at least 40%. Intravenous erythromycin significantly accelerated the rate of gastric emptying in the first 30 min after meal ingestion from a baseline rate of 0.072 +/- 0.06%/min to 0.96 +/- 0.31%/min after erythromycin (P = 0.028). For each of the subsequent 30 minute time periods, erythromycin had no significant effect on the rate of gastric emptying.
Conclusion: Intravenous erythromycin significantly improves the initial phase of solid meal gastric emptying in patients with chronic symptomatic post-antrectomy-vagotomy gastroparesis.