Good Vibrations: Leading-edge treatment for a life-limiting gastrointestinal (GI) disorder

Good Vibrations

Good Vibrations: Leading-edge treatment for a life-limiting gastrointestinal disorder

In 1992, while practicing in Memphis, Tennessee, Thomas Abell, MD, medical director at the Jewish Hospital GI Motility Clinic and professor of medicine at the University of Louisville, and his GI team developed a gastric electrical stimulation therapy, now called the Medtronic Enterra Therapy System. This innovative therapy is used to treat symptoms of gastroparesis, a stomach disorder affecting roughly 5 million Americans.

The condition results in slow digestion of food, which causes severe, chronic nausea and vomiting. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the therapy in 2000, eight years after the first system was implanted. Prior to the advent of the Enterra Therapy System, patients had limited and minimally effective treatment options, including dietary modifications, medications, tube feeding or surgery.

Electrifying Effects

Enterra Therapy works by emitting mild electrical pulses to stimulate the top portion of the stomach’s wall. Its high success rate offers new hope to patients suffering from gastroparesis symptoms.

“This device is a great option for patients who have tried other treatments but haven’t experienced improvement,” Dr. Abell said. “This new approach is highly effective — about 80 percent of patients experience a considerable improvement in their symptoms.”

To provide more cost-efficient care, the Jewish Hospital GI Motility Clinic first offers patients a temporary Enterra device, placed outside the abdomen in an outpatient endoscopy lab, to see if their bodies respond to therapy and symptoms improve.

Watch the video below to hear Dr. Abell discuss Enterra Therapy

“We can usually tell within a week if the therapy is going to work for a patient,” Dr. Abell said. “If they respond well to the treatment, we surgically place a permanent device, which is inserted under the skin over the abdomen.”

Because the permanent device requires a surgical procedure, patients need several weeks to recover from the surgery before the device is activated.

“This therapy has been evolving greatly over the last 16 years since it was first approved by the FDA, and it holds great promise for patients who suffer from these symptoms, which can significantly impact quality of life,” Dr. Abell said. “We continue to see great success with this therapy, and look forward to seeing even more improvement as we learn more about this condition and similar GI illnesses.”

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Winter edition of One Health magazine. For more stories like this one, subscribe to One Health today.

Sixth Annual Golf Tournament, Bite Size Learning Event and More News

KentuckyOne Health News and Events

Sixth Annual Golf Tournament, Bite Size Learning Event and More News

Below is your weekly roundup of KentuckyOne Health news.

Team Registration Open for Flaget Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Sixth Annual Golf Tournament

Bardstown, Ky. (May 2, 2017) – The Flaget Memorial Hospital Foundation, part of KentuckyOne Health, will host its sixth annual golf tournament on Friday, June 2 at Maywood Bardstown Country Club.

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Saint Joseph Berea to Discuss Chronic Disease During Bite Size Learning Event

Berea, Ky. (April 28, 2017) – Saint Joseph Berea, part of KentuckyOne Health, invites the community to learn more about chronic disease in Kentucky and effective treatment options at the free Bite Size Learning event on May 9, 2017.

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Saint Joseph Martin Takes Top Honors During “Best Places to Work in Kentucky” Awards Ceremony

Martin, Ky. (April 28, 2017) Saint Joseph Martin, part of KentuckyOne Health, received top honors during the 13th Annual Best Places to Work in Kentucky awards ceremony, held on Wednesday, April 26 at the Hyatt Regency Lexington.

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A Heart for Transplant

A Heart For Transplant

Kathy Anderson has a heart for organ donation. Literally.

When she was just 20 years old, Anderson received a donor’s heart. Now, 30 years later, she doesn’t miss a beat.

Anderson, of Brandenburg, had been taking medicine while she was pregnant with her twin girls that she later learned had caused her heart to deteriorate. By the time the girls were delivered, her health was serious. Her babies were just three weeks old when her physician, Dr. Laman Gray, flew to Florida to retrieve the heart of a 23-year-old donor.

Kathy Anderson and Family

Kathy Anderson, center, and family

“Transplant was so foreign back then,” Anderson said.

Organ donation took on a new meaning for their family in 2010, when Anderson’s brother died in a car accident. His liver was donated to a woman who was being treated at the University of Kentucky.

Anderson now returns to Jewish Hospital every year for a checkup, and she’s actively helped raise funds to support the hospital system through the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation.

“Jewish Hospital is the reason I’m here,” she said. “I’ve had this heart longer than the one I was born with.”

Painful Acid Reflux Disease Affects Many Americans

Painful Acid Reflux Disease Affects Many Americans

Painful Acid Reflux Disease Affects Many Americans
Acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a chronic digestive disease that affects nearly 20 percent of Americans, including children and adults.

A painful disease in which stomach acid flows backwards into the esophagus, GERD causes irritation and other negative side effects. Acid reflux disease can eventually lead to esophageal cancer if left untreated, so it is important to understand the symptoms and when to seek treatment.

The stomach produces harsh acids after a meal that help with the digestion of food. In a healthy person, a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter prevents the acid from backing up into the esophagus in a movement called reflux. In people with acid reflux disease, this muscle does not function properly, and the acid backs up, or refluxes, into the esophagus.

Cause and Effect

The stomach lining is tough and it’s made to handle acid, but the esophagus is not. It has much more delicate lining and doesn’t repair itself as well. As a result, refluxed acid can lead to burns, which are painful and can make people feel nauseated or make like they have to belch frequently. Other symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, regurgitation of bitter acid into the throat, bitter taste in mouth, dry cough, hoarseness, feeling of tightness in the throat, and wheezing.

There are many factors that can contribute to acid reflux, including:

  • Lifestyle
  • Medications
  • Diet
  • Pregnancy
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Certain medical conditions

Tests to diagnose acid reflux disease include X-rays of the esophagus, stomach and upper part of the intestine, gastrointestinal endoscopy, esophageal manometry, and a 24-hour pH probe study, a test where a thin probe or tube is placed in the esophagus. A gastroenterologist will perform any number of these tests to determine if symptoms are being caused by acid reflux or another health issue.

Prolonged acid reflux disease can cause long-term damage, including a precancerous condition called Barrett’s esophagus, where normal tissue lining the esophagus changes to tissue that resembles the lining of the intestine. Those who have suffered from acid reflux for five years or longer may require additional testing to see if they are at risk for Barrett’s esophagus.

Watch Video About Barret’s Esophagus


Relief in Reach

There are a variety of ways to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of acid reflux. In some cases, patients may receive a prescription for acid-blocking medication, which helps stop the acid-producing cells in the stomach. That way, when stomach fluids come back up, they include less acid, and don’t irritate the tissue.

Acid reflux can sometimes be prevented by changing the habits that may cause reflux. This includes avoiding alcohol and smoking, limiting fatty foods and other food triggers, maintaining a healthy body weight, and avoiding large meals within three hours of bedtime.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of One Health magazine. For more stories like this one and additional health and wellness information, subscribe today.

Kathleen Martin, MDKathleen Martin, MD

Dr. Kathleen Martin is a gastroenterologist with KentuckyOne Health Gastroenterology Associates.