In the present study the function of the proximal stomach and its role in eliciting dyspeptic symptoms were evaluated in patients with diabetes mellitus. Eight type I diabetics with cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy and dyspeptic symptoms, and 10 healthy volunteers were studied using an electronic barostat device connected to a intragastric bag. The intragastric bag was inflated and deflated by stepwise pressure increments, creating pressure-volume curves. During the experiment the blood glucose concentrations were maintained within the euglycemic range in the diabetics. The volume-pressure curves showed a larger volume during the pressure increase in the diabetics than in the controls (P < 0.01). This resulted in a significant difference in compliance (dV/dP), 57.2 +/- 4.2 ml/mm Hg in diabetics and 43.7 +/- 3.5 ml/MM Hg in controls (P < 0.014). The volume-pressure curves during deflation of the intragastric balloon were different from the curves during inflation, creating a hysteresis loop. The area between the inflation and deflation curves was 827 ml/mm Hg in diabetics and 627 ml/mm Hg in the controls (P = 0.21). Gastric distension induced more upper gastrointestinal sensations in the patients than in the volunteers: nausea (P < 0.002), bloating (P < 0.003), upper abdominal pain (P < 0.001).
In conclusion: this study showed that the compliance of the proximal stomach is increased in diabetic patients with autonomic neuropathy and gastrointestinal symptoms. This abnormality, probably due to autonomic neuropathy, is associated with increased symptom generation during gastric distension.