It’s no secret that obesity in the US is at epidemic proportions. Unfortunately, non-invasive therapies for weight loss, such as dieting, behavioral modification and drugs are minimally effective for most people. Because of this, invasive surgeries like gastric by-pass are on the rise. As a Gastroenterologist I see a lot of patients who have had a gastric bypass, where part of the small bowel is ‘bypassed’ and hooked directly to the stomach. Although it is an effective weight loss procedure, the problem is that the surgeries are only available to a subset of patients, and there can be significant complications from the surgery, and lifelong nutrition issues.
I became really excited when I read a recent journal article in the Annals of Surgery, describing a new and exciting 30 minutes procedure that accomplishes the same thing without surgery.
A company called GI Dynamics has developed the ‘EndoBarrier’ which is a non-permeable lining that is placed into the small bowel and does not let food get absorbed until it reaches the jejunum, which is exactly what a gastric by-pass does!
In a study done in the Annals of Surgery, 41 patients had either the device placed or nothing was placed to serve as a sham group. The group with the EndoBarrier had a 19% weight loss compared to 6.9% in the control group in three months. It appears to really help diabetes also, because of the 8 patients with diabetes, 7 improved significantly. What makes this exciting is that it is easy to place, has fewer complications and is removable.
Our office is in contact with Gi Dynamics to try and become an enrolling site for studies in the US as they try and get FDA approval.
Hopefully this can be an option for those people who either don’t qualify for invasive surgery or who would like a more temporary option.
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