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Gastroparesis is a condition in which emptying of the stomach happens too slowly or not at all. With this disorder, the muscles of the stomach do not work properly when breaking up food and moving it to the small intestine where most nutrient absorption normally takes place.

Symptoms of gastroparesis can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Pain in the upper abdomen

Gastroparesis can develop when the vagus nerve, which controls the stomach muscles, becomes damaged. Diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis. Other causes include:

  • Certain types of surgery, including gastrectomy (removal of part of the stomach)
  • Systemic sclerosis (autoimmune disorder affecting the skin and internal organs)
  • Nervous system disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis                          

In many cases, no cause for gastroparesis can be found. The condition is more common in women than men. It is one of several disorders of gastrointestinal (GI) motility (muscle movements that carry food through the digestive system).

Untreated gastroparesis can lead to problems such as dehydration, malnutrition and bezoars (hardened masses of food that can block the digestive tract).

Gastroparesis also makes diabetes more challenging to manage because it causes food to leave the stomach at unpredictable times. When the food does enter the small intestine, it results in blood sugar (glucose) spikes.

Each person with gastroparesis is unique. We develop a treatment plan based on your specific symptoms, needs and goals. Although there is no cure for gastroparesis, we provide effective treatment to relieve symptoms and help you get proper nutrition.

The Gastrointestinal Motility Clinic at Indiana University Health University Hospital is one of the largest programs in the country for gastroparesis, providing diagnosis and treatment using the most advanced tools and techniques. Our team includes experienced specialists in GI motility, minimally invasive surgery, intestinal transplant surgery, neurology, medical genetics, GI radiology, GI neuromuscular pathology and nutrition.

Through our close relationship with Indiana University School of Medicine, we are conducting research to improve gastroparesis care. Current projects involve studying the effects of vagus nerve stimulation and looking for the underlying causes of motility disorders. We also offer clinical trials of new treatments for gastroparesis.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Gastroparesis Treatment Information

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Gastroparesis Support Services

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