Empty Your Tummy with Surgery

Gastroparesis from diabetes treated with sleeve gastrectomy

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Diabetes patients have plenty to do ensuring their disease does not get out of control. For some diabetics having trouble managing their disease, surgery could be the answer.

A weight-loss surgery called Sleeve Gastrectomy may fix a certain stomach problem caused by diabetes.

"Ask your doctor about weight-loss surgery if you have trouble emptying your stomach."

Melissa Bagloo, M.D., from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center, and other researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian have been looking for new ways to fight diabetes using certain weight-loss surgeries.

Dr. Bagloo and colleagues found that sleeve gastrectomy - a method for weight-loss surgery - could be used to treat gastroparesis, a condition in which the stomach cannot easily empty its contents into the intestine.

People with gastroparesis may be faced with pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, and malnutrition because food is not moving correctly through their bodies. The condition can be caused by a variety of health problems. However, diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis.

In most cases, gastroparesis patients are treated medications or with changes to their diets. Doctors may also implant a sort of pacemaker in patients with gastroparesis.

The pacemaker sends little electrical signals to the stomach to help control nausea and vomiting. If all of these treatments do not work, patients may have to get all their nutrients through feeding tubes.

Recently, four gastroparesis patients at NewYork-Presbyterian were faced with the possibility of having to go on feeding tubes. In order to help them avoid this fate, surgeons performed sleeve gestrectomy - which reduces stomach size by about 30 percent - on all four patients.

Dr. Bagloo and colleagues saw two of the patients improve right after surgery. The other two patients had to get some nutritional help for a few months after surgery. After six months, all four patients were able to eat and drink normally without experiencing nausea or vomiting.

According to Dr. Bagloo, it is not entirely clear why sleeve gastrectomy helps gastroparesis patients with their digestion. It is possible, she says, that the surgery kind of 'resets' the stomach's natural pacemaker, or that the smaller stomach size puts more pressure on the stomach contents, making it easier to squeeze out what is inside.

Regardless of what makes this surgery work for gastroparesis patients, Dr. Bagloo says that the successful results seen in these four patients are extremely promising for other patients who are facing a life being fed through feeding tubes.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 18, 2011
Last Updated:
July 21, 2011