Gastroparesis is a motility disorder of the stomach that results in delayed emptying of stomach contents into the intestines. The stomach is a large bag-shaped organ that receives and digests oral food contents both mechanically and with the assistance of acid secretion. The stomach has many nerve fibers that help signal its muscle fibers to contract and help push that food through into the intestines. In gastroparesis, these signals are abnormal and there is a lack of strong coordinated muscular contractions in the stomach which results in prolonged retention of acid, liquid and solid contents in the stomach.
This can lead to a variety of debilitating symptoms such as recurrent nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, fullness, acid reflux/heartburn, weight loss, and lack of appetite.
The exact causes of gastroparesis are unclear, but there seems to be some insult to the vagal nerve which helps activate the stomach. Patient on certain medications (opioids/narcotics), suffering from diabetes and abnormal blood pressures, and having a prior history of abdominal surgeries (that can injure the vagal nerve) are at risk for gastroparesis.
Gastroparesis is a difficult disease to treat as there are not extremely effective medications to affect stomach motility. Often dietary measures including eating smaller meals and less fatty foods can improve symptoms of gastroparesis. There are some medications that help with motility of the stomach, but often their efficacy is limited and they can have side effects. Gastric nerve stimulators (gastric pacers) are implantable devices that may be placed surgically to help with symptoms, but do not actually improve the motility of the stomach.
Recently a new endoscopic therapy called “gastric peroral endoscopy myotomy or G-POEM” has been introduced. The concept of the G-POEM is to use an endoscope to open the distal muscular valve of the stomach known as the pylorus. By opening the pylorus by way of cutting its muscle fibers, the ability of the stomach to empty contents can be augmented and result in clinical symptom improvement for the patient
Are you interested in learning more about Gastroparesis, or other GI conditions? We invite you to contact us to learn more. Dr. Prashant Kedia is a therapeutic endoscopist and gastroenterologist serving patients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and beyond. Call today to schedule an appointment at (214) 941-6891.