Gastroparesis Treatment Options
Unfortunately, treatment for gastroparesis is limited. There are few medications available, most of which treat symptoms of nausea, vomiting, pain, and reflux, but do not treat the underlying causes which keep the stomach from digesting properly. For this reason, they are often ineffective. The FDA has been hesitant to approve motility drugs out of fear of cardiac related complications, although studies into this are not well substantiated. Zelnorm was pulled from the market even though only .1 % out of 900,000 experienced any side effects, far less than the 3% who have complications from the commonly prescribed Reglan.
Most people try to manage their GP through diet changes. Eating six small meals a day of high calorie foods is easiest on the stomach. In spite of this, a patient may still experience extreme symptoms. Some patients cannot even hold down small sips of fluid, while others do well on small pieces of fish, chicken, and potatoes.
When diet modification and medications do not work, more extreme options include tube feedings and IV nutrition. Certain surgical procedures may be performed to help with some gastroparesis related complications. The introduction of Enterra Therapy by Medtronic is currently the only surgical option actually geared towards helping control nausea and vomiting.
In the most extreme cases, a full or partial gastrectomy may be necessary, or when the small bowel is also affected, a multi-visceral (4 or 5 organ) transplant may become the only remaining option.