Gastric bypass is one of the most popular weight loss surgeries available, but it also requires highly invasive surgery. During the gastric bypass procedure, the size of the stomach is reduced with a significantly smaller pouch where their food goes. This limits how much the patient can eat during each meal, thus letting them lose weight by eating less. However, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital may have discovered a less invasive weight loss procedure by using the patient’s arteries.
Study: Gastric Artery Surgery
Physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital actually came upon this data entirely by accident as they were checking in on patients who had a transarterial embolization procedure. This procedure is done by inserting a small plug through a catheter into the patient’s artery. This allows the blood flow to be cut off and help with different medical conditions, like ulcers or tumors.
The physicians for this study were assisted by Rahmi Oklu, a professor at Harvard University, and looked at 14 of their embolization patients who lost about eight percent of their total body weight in just three months after the procedure. Each of these 14 patients had the transarterial embolization done on their left gastric artery, the artery delivering blood to the part of the stomach that controls ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone. Researchers do believe the left artery is the key, as the same procedure performed on 18 other patients in a different artery only had about 1.2 percent weight loss in three months.
Due to this data, weight loss surgery might be changing in the near future, to a less invasive and more successful approach. With such a large amount of adolescents and adults facing obesity today, researchers hope to offer a type of bariatric surgery with this left gastric artery that is less invasive and poses significantly less risks to the patients. While the data is still in the preliminary stages, it is showing a very high success rate in weight loss.
Future considerations will be in how well the patients are able to keep off their weight, or if it just a short-term weight loss that doesn’t last. This is really the final test of the research study. If the weight comes off in three months, but over the next year, their weight gradually comes back off, it is seen as a failure and the findings are irrelevant.
The research team, which includes Dr. Oklu and physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital plan to present these findings at the Radiological Society of North America, during their annual meeting. After speaking about their plans, the researchers plan to start an official clinical trial looking not just at the short term results of their findings, but long-term weight loss over a year or two.