Battling bulge can often be a frustrating battle — involving tedious calorie counting, rigorous exercise regimens, and invasive and expensive stomach-reducing surgeries. But a new method to relieve the flab promises to be a quick and easy treatment that reduces food cravings and leads to sustainable weight loss.
The non-surgical procedure works by using small, injectable beads that restrict blood flow to the part of the stomach that releases the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin. In a pilot clinical trial involving seven severely obese patients, the method successfully curbed hunger and reduced an average of 13.3 percent of excess weight after six months.
Although the clinical data is still preliminary and in a small number of patients, doctors hope that the method, called bariatric arterial embolization (BAE), will be a safe and effective tool to reduce the number of people who are obese. “These early results show that BAE appears to be effective in helping patients lose significant weight in the short and medium term,” lead author Clifford Weiss, an associate professor of radiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement. . Weiss and colleagues presented the clinical results to date at the 2016 annual scientific meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology in Vancouver.
Unlike bariatric surgeries, BAE requires minimal nicks and fuss. A small catheter is simply inserted into an artery in the wrist or groin and then passed into the body until it touches the top of the stomach — an area called the fundus. This part of the stomach produces most of the ghrelin in the body. Doctors then inject microscopic spheres through the catheter that clog the blood vessels, restrict blood flow and reduce the production of ghrelin.
The seven obese patients in the study, who had a body mass index of 40 to 60 (a BMI of 30 is considered obese), reported significantly lower appetite in the first two weeks. In the first three months, their bodies produced an average of 17.5 percent less ghrelin than before the procedure.
During the six-month trial period, the participant showed sustained and ongoing weight loss. After one, three and six months, the participants lost an average of 5.9, 9.5 and 13.3 percent of their excess body weight, respectively.
Next, the researchers will expand the trial to more obese patients and assess the cost savings compared to standard gastric surgery.