New treatment for stomach paralysis

May 25, 2011 9:55:24 AM PDT
Imagine being hungry and not being able to eat without feeling sick. for 1.5 million Americans who suffer from gastroparesis, it's reality. When broken down literally, gastroparesis means stomach paralysis ("gastro" = stomach and "paresis" = paralysis). It's a condition in which the muscles in the wall of the stomach work poorly, if at all. As a result, food moves through the stomach slower than normal, and the stomach is unable to empty properly.

Gastroparesis can interfere with digestion and typically results in chronic nausea, vomiting, bloating, and severe abdominal pain. Many patients require some type of feeding tube to ensure adequate nutrition. Gastroparesis affects 1.5 million people, and nearly 100,000 of them suffer a serious form of the condition. The disorder often affects quality of life by forcing people to carefully time out their meals and portions. Patients who experience nausea and vomiting may not know when these episodes will occur.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

CAUSES AND COMPLICATIONS: In some cases, there is no known cause of gastroparesis, but type 1 diabetes has been linked to the disorder. At least 20 percent of people with type 1 diabetes develop the disorder. It also occurs in people with type 2 diabetes, but not as often.

Diabetic gastroparesis patients often have a difficult time controlling their glucose, and as a result, may see their diabetes worsen. Some patients also experience malnutrition and significant weight loss.

(Source: Temple University Hospital, Digestive Diseases Center)

TREATMENT: Gastroparesis can be managed through certain diets, but it cannot be cured. Drugs may not adequately control the symptoms, and standard medical therapy does not work for about 30,000 patients.

NEW HELP: Gentrie Hansen was only the seventh child in the United States to receive a new pacemaker procedure. In 2000, the FDA approved Medtronic's stomach pacemaker called Enterra. The electrical device functions much the same way a pacemaker works in the heart, only it is implanted in the abdomen. It is surgically-implanted under the skin and is connected to two electrodes placed on the stomach wall.

Electrical impulses stimulate the stomach after eating, telling the stomach when to empty. Just like a heart pacemaker, the settings can be changed as needed. The device is used to alleviate bloating, chronic nausea and vomiting when conventional drug therapies are not effective.

Doctors at Nationwide Children's Hospital at Ohio State University said patients who received the pacemaker had nearly all of their symptoms resolved within two weeks. After the surgeries, patients are able to eat real food more frequently, in smaller amounts.

(SOURCE: Nationwide Children's Hospital and Ohio State University)


Erin Pope, Marketing and PR
Nationwide Children's Hospital
(614) 355-0495

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