The gastric emptying scan uses a very small amount of radioactive tracer (radiopharmaceutical) to measure the emptying or processing speed of the stomach. The tracer is incorporated into a small meal, usually porridge, and a gamma camera takes images of its progress through the stomach and bowel. This procedure gives an accurate indication of whether the stomach is functioning normally, or is abnormally slow to process food.
Before your procedure
What to bring
- Your referral form
- Any relevant previous imaging
- Your Medicare card and any concession cards
A referral from your doctor or medical specialist, and an appointment is required for this examination.
You should have nothing to eat for eight hours before the time of your appointment, but may drink small amounts of water.
Your referring doctor may ask you to stop taking certain digestion medications before the test.
If you are a diabetic please discuss this with us before you appointment.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a small child on the appointment day, please notify us in advance to receive special instructions.
During your procedure
What to expect during my procedure
When you attend your appointment at Lake Imaging you will be asked to answer a few safety questions, remove any jewellery, watches etc, then change into an examination gown.
The technologist will explain the procedure, and you will then be asked to eat a small serving of porridge containing radioactive tracer. When you have consumed the porridge, you will be positioned under the gamma camera, which takes images over the course of one and a half to two hours. During the scanning procedure you may breathe normally but must try not to move.
Occasionally, we need to take further pictures after a break of up to four hours. In this case you will be able to leave the clinic and return at an advised time.
The gamma camera is a large square radiation detector which sits close to the area being examined. You will experience no unusual sensations or discomfort during the scan.
Please allow up to four hours for the complete scanning procedure.
Risks and side effects
Nuclear medicine examinations are considered very safe with almost no reported adverse reactions attributable to the radiopharmaceuticals used in these examinations.
Nuclear Medicine studies require very small doses of gamma radiation and are only performed where the benefits of the examination are deemed to outweigh any potential risks. At Lake Imaging you can be assured that using the latest technology and with staff trained in radiation reduction techniques, radiation doses are kept as low as reasonably possible.
If you are worried or concerned about having a Nuclear Medicine study you should discuss this with your referring doctor or medical specialist before coming for your examination.
If you think you may be pregnant, please inform our Nuclear Medicine team before your examination.
For further information regarding radiation safety please visit:
Who will perform and report my examination
At Lake Imaging your examination will be carried out by a Nuclear Medicine Technologist who has a degree in Medical Radiation Science and is accredited by the ANZSNM.
Your images will be reviewed along with your relevant medical history, and any other imaging, and be reported by our Nuclear Medicine credentialed radiologist or Nuclear Medicine physician (a medical doctor specialising in the interpretation of Nuclear Medicine studies).
After your procedure
What to expect after my procedure
Radiation from the injected isotope diminishes to a very low level by the end of the procedure, and you are free to resume normal activities. If you are caring for a small child, or breastfeeding, we may ask you to take some minor precautions.
How do I receive my results?
If your results are needed urgently, or you have an appointment straight after your scan with your referring doctor or health care provider, Lake Imaging will arrange to have your results available immediately. Otherwise your referring doctor or health care provider will receive your report within 48 hours of your examination.
Please ensure that you make a follow up appointment with your referring doctor or health care provider to discuss your results.