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Gastroparesis and Gastric Pacing

This is a condition wherein the muscles of the stomach are weak and result in the stomach taking a long time to empty food into the intestines. As a result, a patient may suffer bloating, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or even heartburn.

Gastroparesis may result from several other conditions such as diabetes mellitus. Previous gastric or esophageal surgery may also cause gastroparesis if the vagus nerves have been damaged. In many patients there may be no identifiable cause.

Several tests of gastric emptying can confirm a diagnosis of gastroparesis. The mainstay of treatment is the use of medications that help the stomach empty better. However, a proportion of patients will continue to suffer intractable symptoms, loose weight and become malnourished.

In such circumstances, gastric pacing is a technique that may help improve some of the symptoms. This consists of a minimally invasive operation whereby two small wires are attached to the stomach to provide gentle electrical stimulation using a small long-life battery implanted under the skin (similar to a cardiac pacemaker).