Gastric electric activity assessed by electrogastrography and gastric emptying scintigraphy in adolescents with eating disorders

Antonella Diamanti, F. Bracci, M. Gambarara, G. C. Ciofetta, T. Sabbi, A. Ponticelli, F. Montecchi, S. Marinucci, G. Bianco, M. Castro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Patients with eating disorders can refer to a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, sometimes to justify reduced food intake and vomiting. The authors investigated whether adolescent patients with eating disorders and dyspeptic symptoms have altered gastric electric activity and abnormal gastric emptying as assessed respectively by electrogastrography and scintigraphy. Methods: Twenty-eight patients (18 with anorexia and 10 with bulimia) and 16 healthy volunteers underwent electrogastrography; 20 of the 28 patients (14 with anorexia and 6 with bulimia) underwent gastric emptying scintigraphy. Electrogastrography with bipolar recording lasted 1 hour, 30 minutes before and after a standard meal. Before gastric emptying scintigraphy, patients fasted overnight; during testing, they ingested a solid meal labeled with technetium-99m sulfur colloid. The ratio of fasting to postprandial electrogastrographic variables was evaluated using the Wilcoxon matched-pair test. The Mann-Whitney test was used to compare absolute values for electrogastrographic data in each group. The Student paired t test was used to compare scintigraphic results expressed as percentage of gastric emptying at 60 minutes and as the gastric emptying time (T1/2). Results. Patients with bulimia significantly differed from those with anorexia and control subjects regarding the amount of normal gastric electric activity and bradygastria, and from patients with anorexia only regarding tachygastria. These electrogastrographic variables did not differ significantly between patients with anorexia and control subjects. Gastric emptying time (T1/2) was significantly longer in patients with bulimia than in those with anorexia. Conclusions: Adolescent patients with bulimia who complain of dyspeptic symptoms have documentable abnormalities of gastric electric activity and emptying, whereas their counterparts with anorexia, probably owing to their shorter disease duration, do not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Eating disorders
  • Gastric electric activity
  • Gastric emptying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Histology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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