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Gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying, is a condition in which the stomach takes an abnormally long time to empty its contents. The stomach normally contracts to move food down into the small intestine for digestion. The vagus nerve regulates the passage of food from the stomach to the digestive tract. Gastroparesis occurs when the vagus nerve is damaged, and the stomach and intestine muscles do not function normally. The food then moves slowly or stops moving completely through the digestive tract.  With gastroparesis, the stomach is partially paralyzed.  This means that the stomach is unable to digest food and empty its contents properly. Depending on the individual, gastroparesis symptoms can be mild or severe. Symptoms may occur frequently in some people but less frequently in others. Many people with gastroparesis have a variety of symptoms, and the disorder is sometimes difficult to diagnose. Gastroparesis symptoms include severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, a decreased appetite, heartburn, pain in the upper abdomen, an early feeling of fullness after only a few bites of food, weight loss due to poor nutrient absorption or low-calorie intake, abdominal bloating, high and low blood glucose levels, a lack of appetite, and gastroesophageal reflux.

One of the most frequent causes of gastroparesis occurs when a surgeon cuts, severs, damages, compresses, or traps the vagus nerve during a bariatric or other gastrointestinal procedure. Because the vagus nerve regulates the stomach, it can cause gastroparesis if it stops working or is not working properly. The standard of care requires surgeons to locate and protect nerves and blood vessels during an operation or procedure. In other words, vagus nerve damage should not occur and when it does, it is usually the result of medical malpractice.  If you or someone you love has suffered because of a healthcare provider’s surgical error, call our office today.  Our highly experienced medical malpractice attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano may be able to assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve.  We serve clients throughout Upstate New York and have offices in several convenient locations. Our extensive experience in the field of medical malpractice is reflected in the results we have obtained for our clients.

Several tests are available to help doctors diagnose gastroparesis. It is not a condition that should be diagnosed without the completion of the following tests:

  • Scintigraphy – This is the gold standard test for diagnosing gastroparesis. It measures the rate at which food leaves the patient’s stomach.
  • Breath tests -This test determines how quickly the stomach empties itself after eating food by measuring the amount of the substance in the patient’s breath.
  • Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy – An endoscope is a small camera attached to the end of a tube that is inserted down the esophagus.
  • Ultrasound -An ultrasound can help determine whether problems are being caused by the gallbladder or the kidneys.

At no time should a diagnosis of gastroparesis be made without first using these diagnostic studies.  Improperly diagnosing gastroparesis can have devastating effects.  The patient may be discharged home with a serious, life-threatening condition. Without prompt and proper treatment, the patient may die. Gastroparesis, itself, is not life-threatening, it is typically benign and harmless. However, missing the true cause of the patient’s pain and complaints, though, can be catastrophic.

The severity of the symptoms determines how gastroparesis is treated. Treatment rarely cures gastroparesis, which is usually a chronic condition. Treatment aids in the management of the condition, allowing you to be as healthy and comfortable as possible. Doctors treat the symptoms of gastroparesis because there is no cure. Treatment usually begins with diet and medications, and if those fail, more invasive options may be considered.

Gastroparesis is usually not a serious medical condition, but the diagnosis must be correct. If a doctor misdiagnoses your condition, he or she may be overlooking something potentially fatal. Diagnosing a patient with gastroparesis just because no other potential diagnosis fits with the assessment is called a “garbage can diagnosis.”  This frequently leads to medical malpractice. It is the doctor’s responsibility to run additional tests and studies in order to reach a proper diagnosis before sending you home from the emergency room. This is true even if the radiologist fails to diagnose something in an imaging study or if laboratory tests are inconclusive.

At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our medical malpractice attorneys are committed to advocating on your behalf and ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering. Having an experienced Upstate New York medical malpractice attorney on your side is the best way to ensure that your interests and your rights are protected while you concentrate on healing.  Our attorneys have won cases for our clients across the Upstate New York area, including Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Elmira, Binghamton, Auburn, Ithaca, Oswego, Norwich, Herkimer, Delhi, Cooperstown, Cortland, Lowville, Oneida, Watertown, Utica, Canandaigua, Wampsville, Lyons, and surrounding areas.  Please call us at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form to discuss your case.

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