Measuring Gastric Complaints

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
September/October 2003 Volume 14, Number 5
©2003 Gürze Books

Patients with eating disorders may complain of a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, sometimes in an effort to justify reduced food intake and vomiting. According to Italian gastroenterologists, tests show that some of these patients have valid complaints.

When 18 patients with anorexia nervosa, 10 with bulimia nervosa, and 16 healthy volunteers underwent electrogastroscopy and/or gastric emptying scintigraphy, the test results revealed that those with bulimia had significantly different gastric electrical system patterns and different gastric emptying times than those with anorexia or control subjects. Patients with anorexia nervosa and the control subjects had similar gastric emptying times and similar gastric electrical patterns.

The researchers, who did the testing at Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome, theorize that the significantly longer gastric emptying times and greater gastric activity reported among bulimic patients, in contrast to normal patterns among anorexic patients, may be due to the longer length of illness among patients with BN. It is still unclear whether these changes in gastric function were a cause of, or a consequence of, eating disorders.

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