Gastroparesis Essay

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Kathy Hijazeen Gastroparesis Gastrointestinal (GI) motility disorders are common and cause either delayed or accelerated transit through the stomach, small intestine, or colon.2 Gastroparesis is a common chronic GI motility disorder. Gastroparesis is the cause of a wide range of abdominal complaints. “Gastro” means stomach and “paresis” means paralysis or weakness. Gastroparesis in laymen terms is a weak stomach.1,2 The stomach lies in the left upper quadrant (LUQ) of the abdomen.3 The stomach consists of three main parts, the fundus which is the highest part, the body which is the middle, and the pylorus which is the lowest part of the stomach. The stomach receives food from the esophagus through the cardiac orifice which is just above the fundus. Ridges of muscle tissue called rugae line the stomach. Normally, peristalsis moves gastric contents towards the pyloric region of the stomach.3 Gastric emptying is a fairly slow process taking 2-6 hours for total emptying after an average meal. For those suffering from gastroparesis, food does not leave the stomach; instead it stays in the stomach and can cause serious complications if untreated. Gastroparesis is usually caused by damage to the vagus nerve which regulates stomach function, but can also be caused by other factors.1.2 Gastroparesis causes many irritating symptoms. Diagnostic exams and treatments exist to diagnose and treat the symptoms of the disorder, but no cure is yet available. The vagus nerve, which is responsible for many sensory and motor responses of the intestine, can be damaged due to esophageal or gastric surgery. 1,2 The vagus nerve sends neurotransmitter impulses to the smooth muscle of the stomach that result in contraction and forward propulsion of gastric contents. If the vagus nerve is injured during surgery, gastric emptying may not occur. Uncontrolled diabetes is also a common cause of

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