Journal of Neurology

, Volume 252, Issue 9, pp 1055-1059

First online:

Gastric emptying after semi–solid food in multiple system atrophy and Parkinson disease

  • T. ThomaidesAffiliated withDept. of Neurology, Pammakaristos Hospital Email author 
  • , T. KarapanayiotidesAffiliated withDept. of Neurology, Pammakaristos Hospital
  • , Y. ZoukosAffiliated withDept. of Neurology, Royal London Hospital
  • , C. HaeropoulosAffiliated withDept. of Neurology, NIMTS Hospital
  • , E. KerezoudiAffiliated withDept. of Neurology, Polikliniki Hospital
  • , N. DemacopoulosAffiliated withDept. of Nuclear Medicine, NIMTS Hospital
  • , G. FloodasAffiliated withDept. of Neurology, Pammakaristos Hospital
  • , E. PapageorgiouAffiliated withDept. of Neurology, Pammakaristos Hospital
  • , F. ArmakolaAffiliated withDept. of Neurology, Pammakaristos Hospital
    • , Y. ThomopoulosAffiliated withDept. of Neurology, Pammakaristos Hospital
    • , I. ZaloniAffiliated withDept. of Neurology, Pammakaristos Hospital

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Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, and bloating are frequent complaints in patients with Parkinson disease (PD) and in patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA), and may be associated with delayed gastric emptying (GE). Although several GE studies in patients with PD have been performed, scant data exist in patients with MSA.


We assessed GE half–times (T50) in 12 patients with MSA and compared them with those of 12 patients with PD and 12 age–matched healthy controls.GE was estimated scintigraphically using the left anterior oblique method after ingestion of a 99mTc colloid–labeled balanced semi–solid meal (yogurt). GE data were obtained every 15 minutes until there was complete emptying of the stomach. Blood pressure, heart rate, plasma glucose and glucosylated hemoglobin were regularly determined.


Reproducibility of the GE technique was excellent (Bland–Altman analysis, limits of agreement: –2.3 to 2.8). T50 was longer in MSA (82 ± 3.4 min) and in PD (90.6 ± 3.9 min) patients compared with controls (46.2 ± 0.7) (two–way ANOVA, p <0.0001). T50 did not differ between patients with MSA and those with PD. No correlation existed between T50 and age, duration of the disease, magnitude of postprandial hypotension, levels of plasma glucose and glucosylated hemoglobin (Kendall’s tau, p > 0.05).


Our results suggest that patients with MSA have GE rates similar to those of patients with PD, but slower than healthy agematched individuals. It remains to be investigated whether gastrointestinal dysfunction in MSA is related to both brain and peripheral pathology, as is presumed for PD.

Key words

multiple system atrophy Parkinson disease gastric emptying