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At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test and invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the test and how you can help.
Your child’s doctor may order a gastric emptying study if he or she is having stomach pain, nausea (feeling sick to the stomach), vomiting, weight loss, or the feeling of being very full (bloated) after eating. The test, done by the nuclear medicine department, will let the doctor see how fast food in the stomach empties into the small intestine. Nuclear medicine is the best way to watch how food is emptied and how well the stomach and smaller intestine are working.
For older children and teenagers, a very small amount of tasteless radioactive material is added to a solid meal. For babies, the radioactive material is added to formula or milk. The amount of radioactive material is very safe and has about the same amount as an X-ray. The energy that comes from the radioactive material can be seen by a special camera that creates images (pictures) for the radiologist to study.
If your child eats the solid meal, many images will be taken of the stomach over the course of approximately 3 hours. Each set of scans takes about 1 minute, but they must be repeated every 20 minutes and then every 30 minutes for about 3 hours. If the liquid study (MILK Study) has been ordered for your child, he or she will have images taken continuously for a little over 1 hour. A nuclear medicine doctor will look at the images and give your child’s doctor a report, which will help him or her decide what treatment is best for your child.
After you arrive in the Nuclear Medicine Department and before the test begins, your child will be seated at a table and served a meal of scrambled eggs, toast, a slice of deli turkey and a milkshake. The scrambled eggs will contain a very small amount of radioactive material.
Once your child has finished eating, a technologist will bring him or her into a room with scanner, which looks like a large camera. Your child will stand in front of the scanner for the test. The scanner does not move, touch the body or contain any radiation.
When you arrive in the nuclear medicine department, a technologist will bring you and your child into a room with a scanner that looks like a large camera, and an exam table.
(Solid and Liquid Studies)
Have your child wear clothing without zippers, metal or belts on the day of the test so he or she can keep on his or her regular clothes for the test. If your child’s clothes contain metal, he or she will need to change into a hospital gown for the test.
For both the solid and liquid studies, your child should not eat solid food and liquids, including baby formula and breast milk, for 4 hours before the test.
The most important role of a parent or guardian is to help your child stay calm and relaxed. The best way to help your child stay calm is for you to stay calm.
If your child has special needs or health issues you feel the doctor needs to know about, please call the Division of Nuclear Medicine at Children’s Hospital before your appointment and ask to speak with the technologist. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs your child might have, especially if he or she is allergic to eggs, milk or formula.
Department of Nuclear Medicine
UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Drive
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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