An implanted gastric electrical stimulation device significantly improved refractory vomiting but not quality of life in a randomized, multicenter, double-blind crossover trial of 172 patients.
After 4 months of electrical stimulation, frequency of vomiting was significantly improved from baseline in the intervention arm, compared with the control arm, in patients with both delayed (P less than .01) and normal (P = .05) gastric emptying. There was also an improvement in nausea with gastric stimulation. In contrast, there was no significant improvement in the coprimary endpoint of quality of life. Based on these findings, “a limited number of medically resistant patients may benefit from gastroelectric stimulation to relieve nausea and vomiting,” wrote Philippe Ducrotté, MD, of Rouen (France) University Hospital and associates in Gastroenterology.
High-frequency gastric electrical stimulation with the surgically implanted Enterra device is regarded as a treatment option for chronic refractory vomiting in patients with or without gastroparesis. However, only moderate evidence supports the use of this therapy, with level 1 evidence limited to a single study, according to the researchers. For the study, they enrolled 172 adults with at least 12 months of nausea or vomiting that was refractory to antiemetic or prokinetic therapy and was either idiopathic or related to type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus or surgery (partial gastric resection or vagotomy). Symptoms “had to be severe enough to affect the general condition of the patient, including [causing] weight loss, or the need to change dietary intake to control diabetes,” said the researchers.
The study started with a 4-month run-in period, after which all patients had the device implanted and left off for one month. Patients in the intervention arm then had the device turned on and programmed at standard parameters (5 mA, 14 Hz, 330 micros, cycle on 0.1s, cycle off 5s). Both groups were assessed at 4 months, and 149 patients then crossed over to the other arm and were assessed again at 4 months. Vomiting was evaluated on a 5-point scale ranging from 0 (most severe) to 5 (symptom absent), while quality of life was assessed by means of the 36-question, self-administered Gastrointestinal Quality of Life Index (GIQLI).
During the intervention, 30.6% of patients reported at least a 1-point improvement on the vomiting frequency scale, while 53% reported no change. With the device turned off, 16.5% of patients reported an improvement in vomiting. During both phases of the trial, median vomiting frequency score was improved in the intervention arm compared with the control arm (P less than .001) in patients with (42%) and without (58%) diabetes. “Gastric emptying was not accelerated during the on period compared with the off period,” the investigators wrote.
A total of 133 (77%) patients in the study had gastroparesis. Most patients were women in their 40s who vomited several times per day. Among 45 device-related events, the most common was abdominal pain at the implantation site (62%), followed by “infectious problems” at the abdominal pouch level (36%) and hematoma (2%). Three of these events “were serious enough to prompt device removal,” the researchers wrote.
The French government funded the study. The investigators reported having no conflicts of interest. They dedicated the paper to the memory of Dr. Ducrotté, who died during the course of the study.
*This story was updated on January 13, 2020.
SOURCE: Ducrotté P et al. Gastroenterology. 2019 Oct 1. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2019.10.018