Advancements in Health Care: Dr. Katja Kovacic

2019 Health Care Heroes Award Winners

Dr. Katja Kovacic
Dr. Katja Kovacic

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:33 pm

Dr. Katja Kovacic

Pediatric gastroenterologist and assistant professor, Children’s Wisconsin, Medical College of Wisconsin

Since 2015, Dr. Katja Kovacic has led research at the Children’s Wisconsin Research Institute using groundbreaking neurostimulation treatment for children with abdominal disorders.

Recently, the FDA approved use of the neurostimulation device to treat irritable bowel syndrome. That decision was based on the research of Kovacic and her colleagues, according to Children’s Wisconsin spokesperson Andy Brodzeller.

Neurostimulation has also shown success in treating children with cyclic vomiting syndrome, giving new hope to patients and their families.

The neurostimulation device is placed behind the ear of the patient and attaches several tiny electrodes, about the size of dimes, to the skin. It delivers tiny amounts of electrical impulses to nerve branches in the ear. The impulses are so subtle most patients do not notice them, according to Brodzeller. The device is worn by a patient for five days.

The treatment has helped children from across the nation. One teen from Arizona, Dylan Knotek, suffered for more than two years with cyclic vomiting syndrome. He experienced severe nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain daily and was unable to leave home, go to school or play sports.

Dylan was referred to Children’s Wisconsin for a clinical trial. After receiving neurostimulation treatment there he has felt normal and been able to go back to school, play basketball with friends and get his driver’s license.

Families from throughout the country are traveling to receive this treatment at Children’s Wisconsin, which hopes it will be approved by the FDA for nausea and vomiting disorders like cyclic vomiting syndrome and then could become covered by health insurance.

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