A new minimally invasive treatment — bariatric arterial embolization (BAE) — has been shown to sustain weight loss in morbidly obese individuals, creating an additional treatment option to control their body weight. The pilot study demonstrated that BAE is safe, induces weight loss, suppresses appetite and improves quality of life in severely obese patients, according to research being presented today at SIR 2016.
“Morbid obesity is a highly prevalent, detrimental and costly disease in the U.S. and abroad,” said Clifford Weiss, MD, associate professor of radiology and radiological science and director of interventional radiology research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Currently, the only interventions to treat this condition include diet and exercise, medications and surgery. We’re excited about the promise of bariatric embolization as another tool for providers to offer patients in the effort to curb obesity rates.”
Researchers designed the Bariatric Embolization of Arteries for the Treatment of Obesity (BEAT Obesity) study to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of bariatric embolization as a minimally invasive, image-guided procedure. With BAE, specific blood vessels to the stomach are blocked with microscopic beads in order to suppress some of the body’s hunger signals, leading to weight loss. In previous animal studies, BAE resulted in decreased levels of ghrelin, the hormone that triggers hunger.
Researchers enrolled morbidly obese, but otherwise healthy, adults with a body mass index (BMI) ranging from 40 to 60, far above the obesity threshold level of 30. All participants were required to enroll in a weight management program with a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals to learn and understand the importance of making lifestyle and diet changes. After patients underwent BAE, researchers tracked weight loss, ghrelin levels, hunger and satiety assessments, quality of life surveys, blood pressure, and adverse events at the one-, three- and six-month marks.
The mean BMI of the seven patients enrolled in the study at the beginning of the study was 44.6±2.77 kg/m2. Physicians embolized the left gastric artery (LGA), which supplies the fundus, in all patients. Additionally, they embolized the gastroepiploic arteries in four of the seven patients.
All patients showed progress in both weight loss and reduction of hunger levels. After one month, participants had an average excess-weight loss of 5.9 percent ± 2.4 percent. After six months, the participants’ sustained excess-weight loss increased to an average of 13.3 percent ± 4 percent. “Excess-weight loss” measures the percentage loss of the pounds above the patient’s ideal body weight. After BAE, over time, ghrelin levels were significantly reduced, hunger scores were dramatically decreased and remained suppressed, and quality of life scores improved.
“This promising early data demonstrates that BAE appears to have early efficacy at producing weight loss with associated appetite suppression,” added Dr. Weiss. “Compared to open gastric bypass procedure, BAE is significantly less invasive and has a shorter recovery time, in addition to being a more cost-effective strategy compared to surgery. As the study expands and includes more patients, we will be able to gain more insight into the efficacy of BAE and how interventional radiology can play a role in this fight against obesity.”
Bariatric Embolization of Arteries for the Treatment of Obesity (BEAT Obesity): Three-month safety and efficacy data
Presented during Arterial embolization: GI, 3–4:30 p.m. in room 114/115 of the Vancouver Convention Centre