Get gastroparesis treatment from Michigan’s top digestive disease specialists at Henry Ford Health. The experts at our Center for Motility Disorders offer advanced procedures for gastroparesis, including gastric neurostimulators and G-POEM procedures, an endoscopic treatment performed entirely through your mouth. With our help, you can finally find relief from gastrointestinal symptoms and start enjoying life again.

What is gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis, or delayed gastric emptying, occurs when food doesn’t move from your stomach to your small intestine as it should. Normally, muscles and nerves in your stomach push the food into your intestines so digestion can continue. But with gastroparesis, nerve damage or muscle weakness in the stomach disrupts digestion. Food stays in the stomach too long, which causes a range of problems and complications.

In about half of people with gastroparesis, the disease doesn’t have a clear cause (idiopathic gastroparesis). But in other cases, it’s related to:

  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Certain medications, such as narcotics and some medications for diabetes or weight loss
  • Nerve damage due to surgery
  • Neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Viral infections

Gastroparesis symptoms

Gastroparesis symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating and belching
  • Fullness in the stomach soon after eating
  • Heartburn (acid reflux)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss

Complications of gastroparesis can include:

  • Blood sugar fluctuations
  • Dehydration
  • Hardened, undigested mass that gets trapped in the stomach, known as a “bezoar”
  • Malnutrition
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

How is gastroparesis diagnosed?

Your gastroenterologist does a physical exam, reviews your medical history and current medications, and gathers detailed information about your symptoms. You may also need lab tests.

Additional gastroparesis tests include:

  • Upper GI endoscopy: We insert an endoscope (thin, flexible tube with a light and video camera) into your mouth and guide it through your esophagus, stomach and the first part of your small intestine. We use this test to rule out blockages or structural problems in your digestive tract that could be causing delayed gastric emptying.
  • Gastric emptying study: Also called scintigraphy, this exam is the definitive test for gastroparesis. You eat a small meal that contains a safe amount of a radioactive tracer. We take a series of scans over several hours to track how the tracer moves through your digestive tract. Experienced radiologists perform this test.

Learn more about how we diagnose motility disorders at Henry Ford.

Gastroparesis treatment at Henry Ford

We understand that gastroparesis can make it hard to work, spend time with family and friends, and live your day-to-day life. When you always feel sick and uncomfortable, it can seem like there’s no relief in sight.

At Henry Ford, a multispecialty team of gastroenterologists, dietitians, surgeons, and a health psychologist work together to deliver whole-person care. Gastroparesis treatment focuses on improving symptoms, gastric emptying, nutrition and, most importantly, your quality of life.

Medical treatment for gastroparesis

Gastroparesis may improve with the right combination of nonsurgical therapies and changes to your diet and lifestyle. We often recommend:

  • Blood sugar regulation in people with diabetes
  • Medication to relieve nausea and vomiting (antiemetics)
  • Pro-kinetic medications to improve gastric emptying
  • Diet and lifestyle modifications
  • Smoking cessation
  • Nutritional counseling

Surgical treatment for gastroparesis

If you have severe gastroparesis, we offer a range of gastroparesis surgeries at our Center for Motility Disorders, focusing on two advanced procedures: gastric neurostimulator surgery and gastric peroral endoscopic myotomy.

Gastric neurostimulator therapy

During gastric neurostimulator surgery (also called gastric electrical stimulation), we place a small, battery-powered device (similar to a heart pacemaker) beneath your skin near your stomach. The device sends mild electrical pulses to the stomach muscle, stimulating your stomach nerves. Your healthcare provider adjusts the gastric stimulation settings to help reduce symptoms of nausea and vomiting.

We are one of the region’s most experienced and highest-volume centers performing this life-changing procedure .

Gastric peroral endoscopic myotomy (G-POEM)

Henry Ford is a leader in Michigan for gastric peroral endoscopic myotomy, or G-POEM. We perform this minimally invasive procedure through your mouth, so you don’t have any incisions in your abdomen.

We guide an endoscope and small surgical tools into your mouth and down to the muscular valve between your stomach and small intestine (pyloric sphincter). Your therapeutic endoscopist cuts some of the muscles around your pyloric sphincter to relax the opening, so food can pass through to the small intestine.

Take the next step

To connect with a gastroparesis specialist, call (800) 436-7936 or request an appointment.


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