“Sometimes hospitalists order barium studies because these can be done the same day, whereas with endoscopy, patients need to be put on a schedule and have to be NPO [nothing by mouth] overnight.”
11 Gastric-emptying studies should be outpatient.
Gastric-emptying studies are often better done when patients are not in a hospital, experts say, because they might be on medications that would interfere with the study.
“A common issue, not just among hospitalists but also gastroenterologists, is that patients may be on a bunch of medicines that would affect stomach-emptying while they are in-house for some other problem,” Dr. Gyawali says. “A lot of times, these patients with pain may get narcotics. They may be on medicines to prevent them from throwing up. … And all of these will slow down gastric emptying.”
With an abnormal test result, “you are left to decide whether that is a real abnormality or whether the medicines the patients were on impacted the abnormality.”
If emptying was significantly prolonged, the test may have some value, “but then it probably will need to be corroborated with symptoms and with endoscopic findings.”
Thomas Collins is a freelance writer in South Florida.
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