Scientists are perfecting a new weight loss technique that blocks hunger at its source by choking off blood vessels to the stomach that supply appetite-triggering hormones.
The approach, reported last week at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 37th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco, involves threading a thin catheter into a patient’s arteries and injecting tiny bead particles to block the stomach’s blood supply.
The minimally invasive technique is known as “embolization” and has been used in other health procedures, said lead researcher Dr. Charles Y. Kim, of Duke University Medical Center. The new technique uses it to restrict the production of ghrelin, a hormone that causes hunger, and suppress a patient’s appetite.
"Currently, there are three clinically viable surgical alternatives for obesity: gastric bypass surgery, gastric pacing and endoscopic gastric banding,” said Kim. “These procedures have varying success rates; they are invasive, require extensive gastric/bowel reconstruction or external devices and can have significant surgical complications."
He said the new technique Duke researchers tested could offer an alternative to those three invasive procedures and “one day be the answer for those who have not been successful with weight loss through diet and exercise."
About 127 million Americans -- 65 percent -- are overweight, obese or morbidly obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.