A case of treatment refractory hyperemesis gravidarum in a patient with comorbid anxiety, treated successfully with adjunctive gabapentin: a review and the potential role of neurogastroentereology in understanding its pathogenesis and treatment

Innov Clin Neurosci. 2012 Nov;9(11-12):31-8.


Hyperemesis gravidarum occurs in 0.3 to 10 percent of pregnant women, with a 0.8 percent hospital admission rate. While older theories supported the psychosocial model as a cause for hyperemesis gravidarum, more recent studies have shown significant data to support a biological etiology. Hyperemesis gravidarum has serious complications including include increased risk for miscarriage, low birth weight infants, dehydration, Wernicke's encephalopathy, secondary depression, and negative attitudes toward a consecutive pregnancy. Because of these life-threatening complications and complexity of the disease, it is important to treat both somatic and psychosocial causes of hyperemesis gravidarum to provide the best care for the patient. This paper presents a case of a woman with anxiety symptoms who was experiencing severe nausea and vomiting since Week 2 of pregnancy, with minimal reduction of these symptoms on standard medications utilized in hyperemesis gravidarum. The patient had marked reduction of nausea and vomiting with adjunctive gabapentin. After a brief review of relevant neurogastroenterology, we discuss a possible mechanism for the added gabapentin.

Keywords: Hyperemesis gravidarum; gabapentin; neurogastroenterology.