Treating Gastroparesis With Surgery
For people whose gastroparesis can’t be managed with diet and medication, surgery may be necessary. One option: what’s known as a jejunostomy tube, or J-tube, a type of feeding tube that is passed through the skin of the abdomen into the small intestine. It enables liquid food to bypass the stomach and deliver nutrients right to the small intestine.
“The tube is what keeps me from being in the hospital all the time,” says Schmidt, who, at 49, has lived with gastroparesis for over 17 years. She uses the tube to keep hydrated and to get nutrition when she’s sick.
Another surgical option is gastric electrical stimulation. A surgeon implants a small device under the skin of the abdomen. Wires connected to the device are then attached to your stomach muscles. Electrical pulses cause the muscles to contract, which helps relieve nausea and vomiting. Fortunately, few patients will require surgery, says Balasubramanian. For those who do need it, it can be quite effective. Schmidt, who has had her current device for about six years, says it has helped her greatly. “I’ve only had one hospital visit since 2012,” she says.