Sleeve Gastrectomy for Gastroparesis

As advanced as modern medicine has become, in some cases, it may still fall short. Patients who develop a condition called gastroparesis are among those who may exhaust the limits of available therapies and suffer a very compromised quality of life.

Gastroparesis is a disorder in which the stomach can not properly contract and empty its contents into the intestines. Since food can’t move food normally through the digestive system, patients may experience daily pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, malnutrition, and more. The most common cause is poorly controlled diabetes.

Based on their long-term experience with surgery for weight loss, physicians at the Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery suspected that a laparoscopic procedure called sleeve gastrectomy, normally used to help patients lose weight, could help patients with severe gastroparesis.

An initial investigation included four diabetic patients whose gastroparesis was not relieved by other therapies. After sleeve gastrectomy, all four were able to eat and drink, and their nausea and vomiting stopped. According to Marc Bessler, MD, Chief of the Division of Minimal Access/Bariatric Surgery, “For patients who face the prospect of life-long feeding tubes, the benefits of such a successful outcome can not be overstated.”

Based on the success in the initial four patients, NYP/Columbia is conducting further study and has instituted a program that will offer all treatments, including gastric pacemakers and sleeve gastrectomy, for patients with gastroparesis. “We believe that laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy may be a less invasive option that allows patients to eat normally and regain their quality of life,” says Dr. Bessler.