Gastric electric stimulation is an emerging therapy for refractory gastroparesis. Several methods have been used to electrically stimulate the stomach. Initial studies used gastric electrical pacing, which entrains and paces the gastric slow waves at a slightly higher rate than the patient's normal myoelectric frequency of 3 cycles per minute (cpm). The technique currently practiced uses high-frequency, low-energy stimulation at four times the basal rate (12 cpm). Results from published studies with high-frequency stimulation reveal an improvement in symptoms, primarily of nausea and vomiting, and primarily in patients with diabetic gastroparesis, with only a modest change in gastric emptying. As treatment with gastric electric stimulation evolves, further delineation of its overall effectiveness, the type of patient that will likely respond, optimal electrode placement(s), and stimulus parameters should be explored.
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