Aims To examine the long-term outlook for patients with intractable vomiting from diabetic gastroparesis who underwent major gastric surgery.
Methods Of 18 patients with problems from vomiting referred to the King's Diabetes Centre during the years 1994–2000, seven were considered to suffer irreversible symptoms not alleviated by protracted periods of medical treatment. They were all Type 1 Caucasian diabetic women, mean age 32 years (range 28–37 years) with multiple symptoms of severe autonomic neuropathy. They underwent major gastric surgery comprising 70% gastric resection including pylorus and antrum, with a 60-cm Roux-en-Y loop of jejunum to prevent reflux gastritis.
Results The vomiting was relieved in six of the seven patients almost immediately after surgery and during review up to more than 6 years post-operatively. There have been no serious relapses, resulting in considerable improvement in quality of life. Unfortunately, three of the patients developed renal failure, two of them needing renal support treatments 2 and 3 years after successful gastrectomy. One patient died suddenly 5 months after successful surgery and one 3 months after starting dialysis.
Conclusions Major gastric surgery can, after careful patient selection, effectively relieve distressing vomiting from severe gastroparesis and give a greatly improved quality of life to a small group of seriously disadvantaged patients where risk of subsequent renal failure is high and where life expectancy is poor.