Surgery on patients with cranial nerve disease to decompress and reposition an artery pressing on the medulla oblongata of the brain had the unexpected result of improving diabetes symptoms, an article in the journal Surgical Neurology International said Thursday.
A chronic disease marked by high levels of glucose in the blood, Type 2 diabetes can result in serious cardiovascular, vision and renal problems, amputations from circulation problems and even death.
A resistance to insulin, which the body needs to effectively utilize glucose for energy, characterizes Type 2 diabetes.
The pancreas, involved in the production of insulin, is among the body organs whose functions are influenced by the medulla oblongata.
In the surgery, called microvascular decompression, the artery is repositioned and a protective pad is placed between it and the nerves.
At least one diabetes expert says he is skeptical.
"It sounds very far-fetched to me," Dr. Vijay Bahl, chief of endocrinology and metabolism at UPMC medical center in Pittsburgh, says.
"We know the brain controls blood sugar ... and other neurotransmitters like dopamine ... but the decompression of a blood vessel [as a treatment] just doesn't sound real."