In gastric bypass surgery, the surgeon basically lops your small intestine in two and then hooks it back up again in such a way that it’s much shorter than before. With the first section of your small intestine out of commission, food flows directly from your stomach to the middle of your small intestine. When less intestine is available to absorb food, less food is absorbed, not surprisingly. It works, but it’s not pretty.
Now GI Dynamics, a medical company in Massachusetts, has invented an impermeable intestine liner, one of those things that makes you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” It looks like a long clear plastic stocking, and it’s simply threaded through the patient’s mouth down the stomach to the small intestine, where it lines the upper section (the same part that is bypassed in traditional surgery). There it stays, like a slick little coating. Food slips right through it, but digestive enzymes are trapped on its other side. The two don’t get to join forces until a couple of feet further downstream, so the end result is a lot like a bypass, but without that unpleasant scalpel part.
Results of a current clinical trial, released on September 28, 2008, show that patients fitted with an EndoBarrier lost about 30 pounds in 12 weeks, while controls lost only about 10 pounds. Not only that, but EndoBarrier patients with type 2 experienced lower blood sugar levels and/or reduced need for medication. According to a GI Dynamics press release, “The data demonstrate that patients with the EndoBarrier can achieve clinically meaningful weight loss and immediate normalization of blood glucose levels. The metabolic effects that we are seeing are similar to the effects seen after gastric bypass surgery, but without the risks associated with surgery.”
The EndoBarrier is not yet available to the public because it is still in clinical trials, but it sounds pretty promising. Someday soon, your physician may be able to offer you the choice of either gastric bypass surgery or putting a sock in it.
Source: GI Dynamics