By: Elka Karl
Gastroparesis is a form of neuropathy thatcauses damage to the autonomic nervoussystem, which regulates the normalautomatic functioning of the stomach.This difficult-to-treat complication ofdiabetes results in the incomplete ordelayed digestion of food, leading to nausea,vomiting and bloating, and makes bloodglucose levels unpredictable and difficultto control.
Diabetics with gastroparesis that does notimprove with currently available medicaltreatment can benefit from a permanentlyimplanted system that stimulatescontractions of the stomach (peristalsis).
In a recent University of Kansas study,48 adults with diabetes and refractorygastroparesis were implanted with this highfrequencygastric electrical-stimulation (GES)treatment system.
The GES system significantly improved uppergastrointestinal symptoms, health-relatedquality of life, nutrition and glucose control.The frequency of hospitalizations in studypatients was significantly reduced. Of the13 patients receiving nutritional support bytube feeding at the start of the study, onlyfive required supplemental tube feeding 12months after GES. None of the nine patientson total parenteral nutrition (TPN) via centrallineaccess needed to continue TPN.
Physical and mental health were significantlyimproved with the GES system after six- and12-month intervals, and A1C levels weresignificantly lower after 12 months.Four patients had the GES systems removeddue to infection at the device’s pulse-generator pocket site.
—Diabetes Care, May 2004