Bariatric Radiology

Radiologists Develop Non-Surgical Weight Loss Treatment

Bariatric RadiologyA new non-surgical weight loss treatment, known as bariatric arterial embolization (BAE), could offer individuals a safe and effective alternative to weight loss surgery.

Researchers presented findings of the pilot clinical trial, Bariatric Embolization of Arteries for the Treatment of Obesity (BEAT Obesity), at the 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology.

According to study results, the treatment proved safe, with no major adverse events, and led to sustained weight loss and a dramatic reduction in hunger levels.

What is Bariatric Arterial Embolization (BAE)?

Bariatric arterial embolization (BAE) is a minimally invasive, image-guided procedure developed by interventional radiologists as a weight loss treatment option for people with obesity.

To perform the procedure, the radiologist uses image guidance and a catheter to target the specific blood vessels in the portion of the stomach (the fundus) where the ghrelin is produced.

A small nick is made in the skin at either the groin or wrist and microscopic beads are injected into the blood supply. The beads make their way to the main artery that supplies blood to the fundus and block the smaller blood vessels.

The blockage decreases blood flow in that portion of the stomach, suppressing hunger signals. By suppressing some of the body’s hunger signals, the treatment leads to reduced hunger and weight loss.

This approach was adapted from an existing procedure, known as left gastric artery embolization, which has been used for many years as a method to stop bleeding in emergency situations. It was noticed that patients who had the left gastric artery treated lost more weight than those who had a different artery embolized.

BAE is an outpatient procedure that takes under an hour with very little recovery time and very high safety profile. It is currently not approved for weight loss and remains in clinical trials.

About BEAT Obesity Clinical Trial

The Bariatric Embolization of Arteries for the Treatment of Obesity (BEAT Obesity) clinical trial was a small preliminary study designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of bariatric arterial embolization, or BAE, as a treatment option for individuals with obesity.

The study involved seven individuals (6 women, 1 man), aged 31 to 59, with severe obesity who were otherwise healthy. The body mass index (BMI) of the participants ranged from 40 to 60, well above the obesity threshold level of BMI of 30.

For the study, the researchers worked together with team of weight loss experts that included physicians, hormone specialists, gastroenterologists, and surgeons. All study participants were enrolled in the John Hopkins Weight Management Center to learn about lifestyle and diet changes before and after the procedure.

After treatment with BAE, the participants were monitored for weight loss, ghrelin levels, hunger and satiety assessments, quality-of-life (using surveys), blood pressure, and other adverse events associated with the procedure at 1, 3 and 6 months.

The results showed that the procedure was safe, with no serious complications; all participants demonstrated weight loss and dramatic hunger reduction levels; ghrelin levels trended down, and quality-of-life scores improved.

  • The average excess weighs loss was 5.9% after the first month , 9.5% at three months, and 13.3% after six months.
  • The individuals reported decreases in sensations of hunger of 81%, 59% and 26% t at the 2-week, 1-month and 3-month measurements.
  • At the 3-month mark, ghrelin levels were reduced by an average of 17.5%.

The early results of the procedure are promising, but researchers stress that research is still in the early stages and more clinical trials are needed to evaluate the effectiveness in a larger number of patients and long-term durability.

Story Source: Press Release “BEAT hunger with safe, nonsurgical weight loss treatment,” The Society of Interventional Radiology, April 3, 2016.

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