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Open Access Case report

Gastroparesis secondary to a demyelinating disease: a case series

Savio C Reddymasu, John Bonino and Richard W McCallum*

Author affiliations

Department of Medicine, Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Gastroenterology 2007, 7:3  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-7-3

Published: 31 January 2007

Abstract

Background

Gastroparesis has a number of etiologies. The main ones are secondary to a complication from diabetes mellitus, related to post vagotomy or post gastric surgical resections, or idiopathic when the etiology is unclear. Gastroparesis secondary to a demyelinating disease of the brain is unusual.

Case presentation

A 22-year-old woman was referred for acute onset of intractable nausea and vomiting. She also had cerebellar deficits, dysphagia and paresthesias. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain revealed an isolated area of demyelination in the medullary region. Another 24-year-old woman had a similar presentation with right hemiplegia and MRI of the brain revealed a distal medullary region. Both these patients had an abnormal gastric emptying test. Gastroparesis and neurological deficits improved with intravenous corticosteroids. While the former patient has had no further recurrences, the latter patient developed multiple sclerosis within three months of presentation.

Conclusion

A demyelinating disease is a rare cause gastropareis, but should be suspected when symptoms of gastroparesis are associated with neurological deficits. MRI might help in the diagnosis and intravenous coriticosteroids can address the underlying disease process and improve gastric emptying, especially when used early during the course of the disease.