A systematic review of surgical therapy for gastroparesis

Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Oct;98(10):2122-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2003.07721.x.


Gastroparesis is characterized by delayed gastric emptying in the absence of obstruction. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Severe gastroparesis might result in recurrent hospitalizations, malnutrition, and significant mortality. Patients failing medical therapy are often considered for a variety of surgical interventions, the efficacy of which is not well studied. This review summarizes available literature on surgical interventions in gastroparesis. A MEDLINE search for the period from 1966 to 2002 was performed to identify all English language literature regarding surgical interventions in gastroparesis. Therapies reviewed were gastrostomy, jejunostomy, gastric pacing/stimulation, and gastrectomy or surgical drainage procedures. Candidate studies involved human subjects and included surgical series or trials. The search was conducted independently by two authors and discrepancies resolved by consensus opinion. Seventeen articles met inclusion criteria. These included series reporting on gastrostomy (2), jejunostomy (3), gastric stimulation (2), and gastrectomy for postsurgical (6), diabetic (3), and idiopathic (1) gastroparesis. All trials were unblinded, uncontrolled case series or retrospective reviews. Methodologic differences did not allow for pooled analysis. Completion gastrectomy seems to provide symptom relief in postsurgical gastroparesis. Benefits of gastric surgery for other forms of gastroparesis are not adequately studied. Gastrostomy might provide symptom improvement, but only 26 subjects in two trials were evaluable. Jejunostomy improved symptoms and nutrition in 32 evaluable subjects in three trials but had significant complications. Gastric neurostimulation improves symptoms of nausea and vomiting, but therapeutic gain beyond placebo has not been demonstrated. Limited data exist concerning surgical therapies of gastroparesis. Completion gastrectomy seems effective for postsurgical gastroparesis, but a cautious approach is warranted before surgical therapies in diabetic or idiopathic gastroparesis are used.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrectomy / methods*
  • Gastric Emptying
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Gastroparesis / diagnosis*
  • Gastroparesis / surgery*
  • Gastrostomy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Jejunostomy / methods*
  • Male
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Gastrointestinal Agents