Similar to cardiac pacing, gastrointestinal (GI) pacing is an attractive idea and may become a promising therapy, as the GI organs, like the heart, have their own natural pacemakers. Over the past 10 years, electrical stimulation of the gut has received increasing attention among researchers and clinicians. Several clinical studies have shown that gastric electrical stimulation (GES) with short pulses is able to reduce nausea and vomiting in patients with gastroparesis and that GES with long pulses is able to pace the intrinsic gastric slow waves and thus normalize gastric dysrhythmia. However, possible placebo effects cannot be ruled out, although recent animal studies have revealed various peripheral and central mechanisms involved with GES. Electrical stimulation of the small intestine, colon, or anal sphincter also has been reported for the treatment of dumping syndrome, constipation, and fecal incontinency. Similarly, there is a lack of placebo-controlled studies. In our opinion, pacing of the gut has great potential for the treatment of various GI motor disorders. However, none of the commercially available devices is designed for pacing the gut. The lack of well-suited devices and the invasive nature of gut pacing slow down the progress and clinical applications of gut pacing.
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