But, at least one expert isn't sure about long-term success of procedure
By Randy Dotinga
The procedure is called endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty, and it involves using an endoscope -- a flexible tube inserted through the mouth -- rather than making an incision in the body. When the endoscope reaches the stomach, the surgeon places sutures in the stomach, making it smaller and changing its shape.
A small study found that the procedure resulted in a loss of about 50 percent of excess weight when measured six, nine and 12 months after the procedure.
"We're able to go inside the stomach to its connection to the esophagus," said study author Dr. Barham Abu Dayyeh, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. From there, the surgeons use suturing equipment to create a banana-sized sleeve that serves as a mini-stomach.
"It delays the emptying of the stomach, and food sits in it for longer periods of time. Patients will be able to follow a low-calorie diet, fewer than 1,000 calories a day, without being hungry all the time," he said.
"We're not cutting or removing any part of the stomach or digestive tract," Abu Dayyeh explained. "There's a low risk of having any nutrition deficiencies, because you're leaving the gastrointestinal tract and stomach alone," he added.
Although the procedure still needs to undergo further research, Abu Dayyeh believes it has potential. "It's a whole paradigm shift," he said. "This technique offers more effective weight loss at lower risk and cost."
Not everyone is convinced, however.
Dr. Subhash Kini, a weight-loss surgeon and associate professor at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City, is skeptical. He said surgeons have tried similar approaches using incisions, and they haven't worked well. In addition, he said, the length of the new study was short, and it didn't take into account the fact that weight-loss surgeries tend to fail at two years and beyond.
The findings were published recently in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Two of the study authors disclosed potential conflicts of interest. Abu Dayyeh is a consultant for a company called Apollo Endosurgery, which provided partial funding for the study and has supported his research. Study co-author Dr. Christopher Gostout is Apollo Endosurgery's chief medical officer and holds a stake in the firm.