Gastric dysmotility and gastroparesis

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Opinion statement

  • Nutrition support in gastroparesis begins with encouraging smaller volume, low-fat, low-fiber meals and, if necessary, liquid caloric supplements. There should be a low threshold for placing a jejunal feeding tube either by laparoscopy or mini-laparotomy. Parenteral nutrition should be used only briefly during hospitalization and not encouraged or sustained as an outpatient.

  • Metoclopramide is now the prokinetic of choice for patients who can tolerate this agent; subcutaneous administration is an important method that allows for continued guaranteed absorption. Low-dosage erythromycin also has a prokinetic role alone or in combination with metoclopramide. Domperidone, a centrally acting antiemetic and prokinetic, is only be available to US citizens who can access sources in Canada or Mexico.

  • Antiemetics should be used extensively because nausea is a very severe debilitating symptom, which is under-appreciated and under-treated by physicians. We recommend scopolamine patches to gain maximal absorption, in spite of vomiting and unpredictable oral intakes. The 5-hydroxytryptamine-3 (5-HT3) antagonists ondansetron and granisetron are the most powerful agents. Relief bands using the P6 acupuncture point are useful adjunct.

  • Special vigilance should be paid to situations that can undermine medical therapy or result in breakthrough symptoms, such as hyperglycemic events in patients with diabetes, migraine headaches, cyclic nausea and vomiting, menstrual cycles, rumination syndrome (psychogenic vomiting), and elevated herpes simplex titers.

  • Most excitingly, the era of gastric electrical stimulation has arrived for patients not responding to standard medical therapy. The dramatic improvement in nausea and vomiting, as well as a sustained evidence of improved quality of life, gastric emptying, nutritional status, and decreased hospitalizations by this device are documented by long-term follow-up of more than a year for patients in this country and world-wide.