Fifteen patients with histologically confirmed pancreatic carcinoma, without evidence of gastroduodenal invasion or obstruction, were prospectively studied to determine the frequency of gastric emptying disorders as determined by a solid-phase gastric emptying study. Nine of these (60%) had gastric emptying curves more than two standard deviations below normal mean values. The majority of patients did not have symptoms of gastric stasis. Nausea and/or vomiting was present in 33% of patients with abnormal gastric emptying and in none of those with normal emptying. Abdominal and/or back pain was present in 8/9 with delayed gastric emptying and in 3/6 with normal emptying. Disordered gastric emptying did not correlate with tumor stage, histology, location, or hyperbilirubinemia. Delayed solid-food gastric emptying may be responsible for the nonspecific abdominal complaints that occur during the course of pancreatic carcinoma, although more frequently, gastroparesis exists on a subclinical level.
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