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Stomach pacemaker hope for diabetics

At 39 mn, India has world’s largest diabetic population. New surgical procedure can help them, reports Sanchita Sharma.

health-and-fitness Updated: Apr 17, 2007, 04:14 IST

In a first for India, surgeons at Ganga Ram Hospital used a new, reversible surgical procedure on Monday to implant electronic gastric pacemakers in three patients to control type-2 adult-onset diabetes and obesity. The pacemaker, connected to the stomach, increases insulin production in the pancreas, and checks weight gain by curbing appetite.

“Gastric Electrical Stimulation is a pathbreaking technique that uses an implantable, pacemaker-like device to deliver low-level electrical stimulation to the stomach. It helps people with poorly-controlled diabetes to produce more insulin and control, if not cure, diabetes,” said Dr Pradeep Chowbey, the lead surgeon.

The patients — Gurusharan Singh of Delhi, Prakash Sapkal of Mumbai and Murli Behara of Pune — suffer from uncontrolled diabetes despite being on medication. The pacemakers were implanted through minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery.

“The device starts working as soon as it detects the arrival of food in the stomach. It increases insulin production and prompts people to eat less by changing nerve stimulation activity of the stomach, (so that they) feel full with smaller amounts of food,” Dr Chowbey said.

Patients can go back to a normal diet after the surgery. “Studies have shown results within six months,” Dr Chowbey said. Seventy such pacemakers have been implanted in the US and Europe so far.

The surgery should cost Rs 2.5-Rs 3 lakh in India. We have 39 million diabetics, the most in the world. According to the World Diabetes Foundation, a person dies from diabetes-related causes every 10 seconds.

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