Background & Aims: Disorders of gastrointestinal transit and motility are frequently found in the general population, impacting the quality of life and increasing the costs of health care services. Ultrasonographic assessment of gastric emptying is a method introduced in the early 1980s for the evaluation of dyspepsia. The aim of this paper was to assess the current role of abdominal ultrasound in the evaluation of gastric emptying.

Method: Using the keywords “ultrasound and gastric emptying”, “echography and gastric emptying”, “3D and gastric emptying” and “strain rate imaging and gastric emptying” the PubMed database was screened for publications on ultrasonography evaluating gastric emptying in adults from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2014.

Results: 281 papers were identified, of which only 21 randomized studies, 18 comparative and 18 non-comparative studies met the inclusion criteria. Most studies were conducted on healthy subjects for research purposes. Thirteen studies were performed on patients with functional dyspepsia, of which 6 studies assessed treatment efficacy. Other indications for ultrasound gastric emptying evaluation were: diabetes mellitus, scleroderma, metabolic syndrome, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, and obesity. Using abdominal ultrasound, delayed gastric emptying was found in 10% of patients with functional dyspepsia, 48.5% of patients with longstanding diabetes and 65-70% of patients with systemic sclerosis with a disease duration of more than 10 years.

Conclusion: Functional ultrasonography is a non-invasive method used for research or practical purposes that brings an insight into gastric emptying in healthy individuals, and in individuals with functional and motility gastrointestinal disorders.


abdominal ultrasound, diabetes, gastric emptying, functional dyspepsia, gastroparesis, scleroderma