Clinical utility of gastric emptying scintigraphy: Patient and physician perspectives

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Abstract

Background

The use of gastric emptying scintigraphy (GES) in the evaluation of patients with dyspeptic symptoms is controversial. Our aim was to investigate objective and subjective parameters of clinical utility of GES from the perspectives of both the patient and the ordering physician.

Methods

Socio-demographic features, healthcare resource utilization, gastroparetic symptoms and quality of life (QoL) were obtained from consecutive patients referred for GES immediately prior to GES and again 4 months later. The ordering physician received a brief survey 2 weeks after the GES regarding their perceptions on whether the test provided them with clinically useful information.

Key Results

One hundred and seventy-two (mean age ± SD 52.0 ± 17.9; 78% female) of 266 patients enrolled completed both the baseline and follow-up questionnaires and comprised our study population. At baseline, patients with abnormal GES had significantly higher gastroparesis symptom scores and reduced QoL. At the 4-month follow-up, an improvement in symptoms and QoL was seen, but the degree of improvement was not significantly different between those with a normal or abnormal GES. One hundred and ninety-seven ordering physicians completed the survey and perceived that GES, particularly when abnormal, provided new information (91%) and resulted in a change in diagnosis (58%) and management (60%).

Conclusions & Inferences

Although patients with an abnormal GES generally had worse symptoms and lower QoL, the results of GES did not help to identify those with improved or worsened symptoms or QoL at follow-up. Nevertheless, the ordering physicians generally felt that the results of GES were helpful in managing these patients.

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