Doctors perform first US bariatric embolization procedure to treat obesity

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Bariatric embolization is the first catheter-based procedure that attempts to directly address obesity. The minimally invasive technique is expected to decrease the hormone ghrelin, responsible for appetite, resulting in weight loss. Currently, the only proven long-term procedural solution for substantial weight loss is bariatric surgery, an often extensive operation.

A new procedure to combat obesity was performed in November 2014 by physicians at Dayton Interventional Radiology, Dayton, USA, under the supervision of lead investigator Mubin I Syed, and in conjunction with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center as part of the GET LEAN (Gastric artery embolization trial for lessening appetite nonsurgically) study.

Animal studies at Johns Hopkins University and Duke University, using the left gastric artery embolization technique, have shown significant ghrelin suppression and weight loss. Recently, researchers at Harvard University retrospectively noticed that patients undergoing gastric artery embolization to combat bleeding also lost 8% of their body weight, on average. The first and only other study in humans utilising bariatric embolization for weight loss was conducted in the Georgian Republic (former Soviet Union). In that 2013 study, five patients lost an average of 45 pounds within six months.

“We are combining years of scientific research on the hormone ghrelin, looking at its role with respect to appetite suppression, and combining it with an everyday type of embolization procedure that interventional radiologists routinely perform,” states Kamal Morar, one of the study’s principal investigators.

The GET LEAN study concludes in September 2015 and will collect data on safety and efficacy for those patients who are morbidly obese (defined as having a body mass index greater than 40). Qualified patients are between the ages of 22 and 65, in relatively good health and under 400 pounds. The GET LEAN study will look at changes in participants’ overall weight, changes in body mass index, changes in appetite hormone levels and at quality of life data, while measuring adverse events. This FDA supervised study was issued an investigational device exemption (IDE).

“Despite its potential, bariatric embolization is still in the experimental phase. Therefore, its safety and long-term benefit has yet to be proven.”