Electrical stimulation therapy helps gastroparesis patient

August 13, 2014

Angela Pokluda enjoyed her life as a wife and mother until she began suffering bouts of nausea and couldn’t keep food down.

"My nausea was so serious it would stop me in my tracks whenever it hit," said Pokluda, who shed weight and compared her ordeal to the effects of chemo treatments she received during an earlier bout with cancer. "There were days when I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow."

When her doctors finally determined Pokluda was suffering from gastroparesis, she was referred to UNTHSC surgeon Joseph E. Ronaghan, MD, FACS. Gastroparesis is a debilitating stomach disorder  in which food passes through the stomach more slowly than normal.

"For some people, this condition results in serious nausea and vomiting that cannot be adequately controlled with standard medical therapy and can lead to potentially life-threatening complications such as dehydration and malnutrition," Dr. Ronaghan said. "These patients have difficulty eating and drinking and may require some form of intravenous or tube feeding to ensure adequate nutrition."

Dr. Ronaghan is the only physician in Fort Worth who offers a therapy utilizing a pacemaker-type device that provides hope to patients suffering from certain types of gastroparesis.

"Medtronic Enterra Therapy uses mild electrical pulses, called gastric electrical stimulation, to stimulate the stomach," Dr. Ronaghan said. "This electrical stimulation may help control the symptoms associated with gastroparesis of diabetic or idiopathic origin, including nausea and vomiting, when medications have not been effective."

Since Pokluda had the device implanted, she is now able to take fluids and small portions of food.  She’s also more mobile, which allows her to watch her kids play.

Her health has improved dramatically, but she admits she still has a long road to recovery. "It’s a slow process and it takes a lot of mental strength," she said.

She praises Dr. Ronaghan and said his procedure was a lifesaver. "Dr. Ronaghan and his staff are awesome," she said.

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