netcare-hospitals

Gastric electrical stimulation device implant a first for Johannesburg

Breakthrough in medical technology improves quality of life for chronic motility disorder patients

Imagine trying to go about your daily life burdened with chronic nausea and vomiting. This is the reality that many South Africans living with gastroparesis, more commonly known as delayed gastric emptying, are faced with.

Recent breakthroughs in medical technology have provided a solution, however, in the form of the Enterra gastric electrical stimulation device, which is now available in South Africa.

Specialist gastroenterologist, Dr Ismail Moola, and general surgeon, Dr Barbaro Monzon, recently performed the first Enterra implant in Johannesburg at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital and report that their patient is already experiencing the benefits.

“The patient, a 47-year-old woman with type 1 diabetes mellitus, was suffering from extreme nausea and vomiting. As a result of being unable to keep her food down she was not getting sufficient nutrients from her diet. This severely compromised her health,” explains Dr Moola.

“To add to her problems, the patient also has impaired kidney function, following a failed transplant some years ago, and has to have regular renal dialysis.”

Gastroparesis is a medical condition that occurs when the muscles controlling the action of the stomach are partially paralysed. This means that the food does not move into the intestines, where nutrients are absorbed, at the usual rate.

“The symptoms of gastroparesis include nausea, vomiting, bloating and gastric distention. In severe cases it leads to dehydration, nutritional failure and poor glycaemic control,” explains Dr Moola.

The condition is more prevalent in people living with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus but can also be caused by chronic intestinal pseudo obstruction, connective tissue disorders, Parkinson’s disease and some psychological disorders.

Surgical options that were used before to treat the condition included the insertion of a feeding gastrostomy or jejunostomy, which are feeding tubes that go directly into the small intestine or stomach respectively, or the implantation of a gastric pacemaker. The Enterra gastric electrical stimulation device presents a less obtrusive option, as the patient does not have to contend with external wires or surgical openings into the body which accommodate the feeding tubes.

“As its name suggests, the Enterra device works by providing high-frequency, low energy stimulation to the stomach muscles. The resulting muscle contractions move food through the stomach and into the intestines,” Dr Moola explains.

“The result is that the patient can absorb nutrients when eating normally, with most patients experiencing a vast reduction in nausea and vomiting. The patient who received the Enterra implant that was performed at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital affirmed that she has experienced a drastic improvement in her symptoms.”

“Before the surgery, the patient had lost a lot of weight because of persistent nausea and vomiting. With the Enterra gastric implant, however, her body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food is improving in leaps and bounds and this is likely to optimise her overall health and wellbeing. Furthermore, the reduction in these symptoms represents a real improvement to her quality of life,” Dr Moola observes.

The general manager of Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, Pieter Louw, says that the hospital has joined the ranks of South Africa’s forerunners in offering this cutting-edge procedure. “We are immensely gratified to be offering treatments that can make such a tangible difference in the quality of life for our patients.”

“With accomplished specialists like Dr Moola and Dr Monzon working hand-in-hand with our professional and caring nursing staff, we continuously strive to bring the benefits of the latest medical technology to the communities we serve,” Louw concluded.