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Pathogenesis of delayed gastric emptying

Michael Camilleri, MD
Section Editor
Nicholas J Talley, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Shilpa Grover, MD, MPH, AGAF


Normal gastrointestinal motor function is a complex sequence of events that is controlled by an extrinsic nerve supply from the brain and spinal cord, the complex plexi within the wall of the stomach and intestine (the enteric brain), and the effects of locally released transmitters, such as amines and peptides, that alter the excitability of the smooth muscle of the intestine. Abnormalities in any of these locations can lead to delayed gastric emptying (gastric stasis), a disorder that is often expressed clinically as nausea, vomiting, early or easy satiety, bloating, and weight loss. (See "Gastroparesis: Etiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis".)

The normal physiology of gastric motor function and the pathogenesis of delayed gastric emptying will be reviewed here. Treatment of this disorder is discussed separately. (See "Treatment of gastroparesis".)


An understanding of the pathogenesis of delayed gastric emptying requires comprehension of the physiology of normal gastric motor function.

Control of gut motor function — The motor function of the gut is controlled at three main levels (figure 1) [1]:

Parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 06, 2017.
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