The following relates one patient's experience with gastric electrical stimulation for the treatment of chronic, intractable (drug refractory) nausea and vomiting associated with gastroparesis of diabetic or idiopathic origin. Effectiveness of this device for this use has not been demonstrated. Results vary and not every response is the same. Ask your doctor if gastric electrical stimulation is right for you.
Jim, a dentist in rural Wisconsin, has lived with diabetes for more than 30 years. At 53, he developed gastroparesis, a condition characterized by chronic nausea and vomiting that sent Jim to the hospital close to 200 times in 3 years.
Jim’s condition affected his dental practice and social life. "I would often have to excuse myself in the middle of an appointment because I had to vomit," Jim says. "My friends learned to expect frequent last-minute cancellations for social events."
Strong analgesics and antinausea medications did not provide relief for his symptoms. Eventually, Jim could not eat at all except for small amounts of baby food.
For 6 months, he was fed through TPN, a process that delivered nutrients to his bloodstream through a special intravenous (IV) tube. Unfortunately, the TPN caused a blood infection that led to an abscess and removal of two vertebrae in Jim’s back.
Jim was beginning to lose hope for a normal life when his doctors prescribed gastric electrical stimulation. After receiving the system, Jim’s life began to improve. Soon, Jim could eat small mouthfuls of food. Eight weeks later, his diet was closer to normal.
"It was a huge relief not having to worry every morning whether I was going into the hospital," says Jim. "I was no longer tethered to an IV."
While the effectiveness of gastric electrical stimulation hasn’t been shown, and results differ for each patient, it has helped Jim. A year after the implant in early 2007, he celebrated his first anniversary of no hospitalizations for nausea and vomiting. He’s returned to an active life with a busy work and social schedule.
"I really appreciate being able to eat now," says Jim. "There’s nothing like being able to enjoy cappuccinos again!"
In addition to risks related to a medical procedure, complications from gastric electrical stimulation can include pain, infection, lead penetration, lead/device problems, irritation/inflammation, uncomfortable/unwanted stimulation, and tissue damage, among others.
Safety information concerning EnterraTM therapy
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.