Pacemaker in stomach helps against vomiting

Mar 29, 2010

People with severe stomach disorders can sometimes suffer from chronic vomiting. This symptom can be treated with electrical impulses from a pacemaker in the stomach. A new method enables patients who could benefit from this treatment to be identified, and electrical stimulation leads to reduced nausea and fewer days in hospital, shows a study from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Gastric has previously been shown to be effective in most diabetics who suffer from severe vomiting due to the disease. New research shows that people with other severe stomach disorders could also benefit from this treatment.

27 patients were included in a study testing electrical stimulation of the stomach. 22 had fewer symptoms as a result of initial temporary stimulation, and 20 of these then had a permanent surgically inserted into the stomach. Of the patients who responded well to temporary stimulation, 90% also had good results in a long-term follow-up of the surgically inserted pacemaker. The treatment led to reduced nausea and vomiting. In another study of 16 patients, electrical stimulation led to fewer days in hospital in the year following treatment.

Simple temporary stimulation through the skin can be used to identify the patients who could benefit from the treatment.

"We insert gastric into the patient under local anaesthesia through a small in the skin, and these are then connected to an external pacemaker," explains junior doctor Stina Andersson, a doctoral student at the Department of Internal Medicine. "If the results are positive, we can be relatively certain that treatment with a surgically inserted pacemaker will work for that patient. The next step is to insert a pacemaker using ."

Based on these studies and previous research, gastric electrical stimulation does not seem to affect the stomach locally.

"We believe instead that the stimulation somehow acts on the brain's centre for nausea and vomiting by activating the neural pathways running from the stomach to the ," says Andersson.

Some diabetics with severe symptoms are already being treated clinically with a gastric pacemaker. Other patients with hard-to-treat gastrointestinal disorders could also now receive the treatment following careful examination and successful temporary stimulation of the stomach.

"The treatment could, for example, work on intractable nausea following chemotherapy or extreme nausea during pregnancy," says Andersson. "No studies have yet been performed in these areas, however."

Stomach disorders

Severe vomiting and nausea may be caused by a condition known as gastroparesis, where the stomach empties very slowly without there being any blockage. The causes of gastroparesis can include diabetes and gastric surgery. In addition, around 20% of the Swedish population is believed to have functional dyspepsia, or gastric catarrh. Here, the stomach empties normally but symptoms such as chronic nausea and vomiting can occur in more severe cases.

Explore further: Exploring 3-D printing to make organs for transplants

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A potential treatment for gastric motility disorders

Jun 10, 2009

GES or pacing has been under investigation as a potential therapy for gastrointestinal motility disorders. Conventionally, GES is performed using a single pair of electrodes or single-channel GES. However, few studies have ...

Carbon monoxide reverses diabetic gastric problem in mice

Jun 01, 2009

Mayo Clinic researchers have shown that very low doses of inhaled carbon monoxide in diabetic mice reverses the condition known as gastroparesis or delayed stomach emptying, a common and painful complication for many diabetic ...

Mayo Clinic discovery may help diabetic gastric problem

Sep 25, 2008

Mayo Clinic researchers have found what may provide a solution to one of the more troubling complications of diabetes -- delayed gastric emptying or gastroparesis. The researchers showed in animal models that a red blood ...

Recommended for you

Exploring 3-D printing to make organs for transplants

8 hours ago

Printing whole new organs for transplants sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but the real-life budding technology could one day make actual kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs for patients ...

High frequency of potential entrapment gaps in hospital beds

10 hours ago

A survey of beds within a large teaching hospital in Ireland has shown than many of them did not comply with dimensional standards put in place to minimise the risk of entrapment. The report, published online in the journal ...

Key element of CPR missing from guidelines

Jul 29, 2014

Removing the head tilt/chin lift component of rescue breaths from the latest cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) guidelines could be a mistake, according to Queen's University professor Anthony Ho.

Burnout impacts transplant surgeons (w/ Video)

Jul 28, 2014

Despite saving thousands of lives yearly, nearly half of organ transplant surgeons report a low sense of personal accomplishment and 40% feel emotionally exhausted, according to a new national study on transplant surgeon ...

User comments : 0