Gastroparesis is a disorder that impacts digestion. Another name for the condition is delayed gastric emptying, and its literal translation is “stomach paralysis”. The condition can be painful and result in a range of uncomfortable symptoms.

Abnormal movement of the stomach muscles characterises gastroparesis. When the digestive system functions normally, the stomach muscles contract to break down food and move it along the gastrointestinal tract. Gastroparesis slows or stops the food from moving through the GI tract.

Causes of Gastroparesis

It is usually quite difficult to determine the cause of gastroparesis. Doctors often do not have an answer to this question. Idiothic gastroparesis means the cause is unknown.

Diabetes is a common cause of gastroparesis. Diabetes can damage the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve controls the movement of food through the GI tracts, and it is often damaged when blood glucose levels remain high over a significant time period.

Signs and Symptoms of Gastroparesis

The main symptoms of this condition usually make themselves known after mealtimes. Individual patients experience different symptoms, in varying degrees of severity, but the most common signs include:

  • Feeling overly full even at the beginning of a meal
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Unmanageable blood sugar levels
  • Lack of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Food remains in the stomach for longer than it should with this condition. This can be dangerous, leading to bacterial infections within the intestines and stomach. If you have diabetes, this complication is particularly unwelcome as it can further complicate and unbalance blood sugar levels.

G-POEM for Gastroparesis

Gastric Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy or G-POEM is a new and effective treatment for this condition. It involves relaxing the pylorus to allow food and drink to pass normally from the stomach into the small intestine. G-POEM is an endoscopic procedure that leaves no scarring or superficial damage.

While other treatments are available, G-POEM is proving very effective for patients. It does involve a short hospital stay and a strict diet in the weeks following the procedure. However, the results and minimisation of symptoms are often more than worth the short-term inconvenience. Your medical team will provide you with all the information you need and any additional medication you may require.

Dr Rehan Haidry is a specialist endoscopist and offers G-POEM. He is one of only a small number of endoscopists globally who can perform the procedure. If the treatment is suitable for your individual needs, then you will have the chance to discuss it with him at your consultation.