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Brain Surgery Could Help Fight Diabetes

Mon, 08/16/2010 - 6:31am
by Pohla Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The study about the effects of surgery to decompress an artery pressing on the medulla oblongata was published in Surgical Neurology International. The medulla oblongata is responsible for, among other things, function of the pancreas, which is involved in the production of insulin. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by a resistance to insulin, which helps the body effectively use glucose for energy.

Dr. Jannetta noted that an earlier group of his patients had both type 2 diabetes and what was considered unrelated cranial nerve disease. They were given the surgery to relieve arterial compression in the medulla oblongata. In enrolling type 2 diabetes patients for the latest study, he hypothesized that the nerve compression affected the pancreas and surgery could mitigate the disease.

The new study's 10 patients had both steadily progressive type 2 diabetes and medullary compression, which had been detected through MRI scans. They underwent microvascular decompression and were followed for a year, during which time they were not permitted to make any changes in diet, weight or activity.

Seven of the 10 showed significant improvement in their glucose control, demonstrated by measurement of diabetes markers and decreased medication dosages. One patient went off medication altogether. The three who did not improve had higher body mass indexes, falling into the obese category. The other seven had BMIs in the overweight class.

This is a condensed version of the original article, which can be found here.

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