Interventional rads demonstrate viable alternative to stomach surgery for obesity treatment

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Interventional radiologists at Johns Hopkins have shown that minimally invasive, image-guided bariatric arterial embolization (BAE) can be a sound alternative to gastric bypass surgery for obese individuals seeking major weight loss.

In research presented April 4 at the annual scientific meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology in Vancouver, Clifford Weiss, MD, said his team demonstrated BAE’s safety and efficacy by treating and studying seven severely obese but otherwise healthy adults with a body mass index ranging from 40 to 60, according to a news release from the society.

The patients lost weight and demonstrated “dramatic hunger reduction levels” following BAE, which targets the fundus portion of the stomach, where the body produces the hunger hormone ghrelin.

The procedure uses image guidance to give interventional rads access to the fundus via catheters inserted at either the groin or wrist. The physician then injects microscopic beads to decrease blood flow to that portion of the stomach.

Weiss and colleagues reported that all seven patients experienced dramatic drops in hunger levels, with an average accompanying excess-weight loss of 13.3 percent at the six-month mark.

All patients had improved quality of life scores, and none had major adverse effects.

The researchers worked collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team that included weight loss physicians, hormone specialists, gastroenterologists and surgeons, and the patients were all enrolled in the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, according to the release.

“Compared to a surgical gastric bypass procedure, BAE is significantly less invasive and has a much shorter recovery time,” Weiss said.

“As this study expands and includes more patients, we will be able to gain more insight into the efficacy of BAE and the role interventional radiology can play in the critical battle against obesity,” he added, stressing that larger studies are needed.