Gastric Pacemaker as New Option for Obesity - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/17/04

Gastric Pacemaker as New Option for Obesity

If you are considering gastric bypass surgery, there is a new development that could help you lose that weight without undergoing major surgery. As America's obesity epidemic reaches crisis proportions, more and more people are turning to gastric bypass surgery.

For those who are not willing to undergo major surgery to shrink or by-pass the stomach, researchers are looking at a possible new option, a pacemaker for the stomach. It's implanted laparoscopically, which means using a scope and a tiny incision instead of a major scar. That also means there's less pain and the recovery is faster than major surgery.

More importantly, the stomach pacemaker doesn't rearrange your intestinal tract like gastric bypass surgery. Instead, small electrodes are placed on the stomach where they can stimulate the vagus nerves, sending impulses to the brain, fooling you into thinking you're full.

"I can tell that I get fuller sometimes faster. I can tell sometimes I don't have, I can't eat anymore, where before, I just kept on eating," says Charles Rose, a stomach pacemaker patient.

"Some people lose 20 to 30% of their excess body weight which is a significant amount of weight," says Dr. Louis Aronne, New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Researchers at New York Presbyterian Hospital say they've also devised a computer questionnaire to figure out which patient is most likely to benefit from the pacemaker approach because it's not a blanket cure for obesity. While the "full" effect seems to be long lasting, the weight loss is slower and less dramatic than with gastric bypass surgery.

Again, the stomach pacemaker is still in the testing stages. In fact, New York Presbyterian Hospital is looking for more volunteers. Researchers at New York Presbyterian Hospital are looking for more volunteers who are willing to have a pacemaker implanted. Everyone gets a pacemaker, but for the first year, only half will have it turned on, then everyone gets it activated.

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