First in the Region with New Digestive Treatment: POP Procedure

Salvatore Docimo, DO, MS

Stony Brook Medicine is offering for the first time in Suffolk County a newly developed treatment for gastroparesis, a troublesome digestive disorder. 

Salvatore Docimo Jr., DO, MS, of Stony Brook University School of Medicine’s Bariatric, Foregut and Advanced Gastrointestinal Surgery Division recently performed the newly developed POP (Per-Oral Pyloromyotomy) – a minimally invasive surgical procedure – at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Dr. Docimo is Director of the new Stony Brook Gastroparesis Center, which brings together experts in surgery, gastroenterology, psychology and nutrition. The center diagnoses and treats digestive disorders, especially gastroparesis, which is delayed emptying of the stomach. 

When a person suffers from gastroparesis, food moves more slowly than it should through their stomach into the intestines. Gastroparesis patients often experience chronic nausea, vomiting, bloating and poorly controlled blood sugar levels. Sometimes the condition requires hospitalization. Gastroparesis makes it hard to maintain a normal quality of life and can affect a patient’s relationships and work life. 

The POP procedure generally does not require any incisions on the body. By extending a gastroscope (a thin, flexible tube) through the mouth and down the esophagus into the stomach, surgeons snip the pylorus, a muscle that controls how the stomach empties. Cutting the pylorus helps the stomach’s food contents flow normally into the small intestine, where the food can be properly absorbed by the body.

Most patients are able to go home the next day after POP surgery, compared to a three- or four-day hospital stay after conventional surgery. Usually no pain medications are needed. The new procedure is an alternative to previously used surgical therapies for gastroparesis and helps some patients avoid the problems associated with surgery. 

Dr. Docimo said that gastric emptying studies done before and after the POP show a nearly 80 percent improvement in how the stomach empties after the surgical procedure is done. There also can be a significant reduction in gastroparesis symptoms after POP.

“Gastroparesis has always been a difficult disease process to manage,” said Dr. Docimo. “Establishing the Stony Brook Gastroparesis Center is a good step forward in helping patients with this condition enjoy an improved lifestyle.” 

The center is also a resource for health care providers in the region. “If they have a patient who they suspect may have gastroparesis but they’re not quite sure, we can evaluate that patient,” he said. 

For consultations or patient appointments with Dr. Docimo to discuss treatments for gastroparesis, call (631) 444-8330 or (631) 444-2274.