Doctors hoping surgery can cure diabetes

March 5, 2013 7:56:13 AM PST
Type 2 diabetes is a difficult medical problem and the numbers of people dealing with it are growing. But what if you could cure diabetes?

Some Houston surgeons say they may be able to cure diabetes with an experimental surgery that Houston patients may be able to get.

Marie Alonzo's diabetes forced her to give up her favorite foods.

"I just wanted to be like everybody else, and have dinner and not have to count my carbs and not have to give insulin," Alonzo said.

Despite taking insulin three times a day and checking her blood sugar, she's already losing feeling in her feet.

"I've known so many people who have their feet amputated, their legs amputated and that's not what I want for myself," Alonzo said.

Now she tried something radical, an experimental surgery she hopes will cure her diabetes. Houston surgeons saw it work in Brazil. So they had some questions: Can you cure diabetes? Can you cure it with a surgery? And can you cure it with a minimally invasive surgery?

This study is going to help them find out.

Operating on Alonzo, Dr. Eric Wilson and Dr. Brad Snyder used a robot to make five tiny holes in her abdomen. Then they removed the ileum at the end of her small intestine and moved it to the top, right next to the stomach.

"The ileum has special cells that produce special hormones and these hormones have a very positive effect on diabetes, they improve insulin sensitivity, make the pancreas work better," Dr. Wilson said.

In Brazil, half the diabetes patients were cured by the surgery, the others improved. They expect patients here to do even better.

"The odds are greatly in her favor that she'll be cured of her diabetes after this procedure," Dr. Wilson said.

And in a few weeks, Alonzo will learn if she too can say goodbye to diabetes.

If you are interested in more information on the study, you can call 713-892-5500 or visit the website for the diabetes surgery trial.