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Non-surgical method could become preferred weight-loss tool

A new study has demonstrated how a non-surgical procedure called bariatric artery embolization could be a great way for doctors to treat severe obesity.

The study involved 7 people suffering from severe obesity, and when given the "minimally invasive" treatment, none of them experienced any serious side effects.

Moreover, the patients were able to lose some weight, as the patients dropped an average of 13 percent of their excess weight over a six-month observation period.

Dr. Clifford Weiss, lead author and associate professor of radiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said embolization could potentially serve as an intermediate step between lifestyle changes and weight-loss drugs - which have limited effects for severe obesity ? and gastric surgery.

The approach is an extension of a long-used procedure known as gastric artery embolization, where microscopic beads are injected into an artery supplying the stomach. Usually, it has been done in emergency situations to stop serious stomach bleeding.

However, recent research has suggested that embolization might also trigger weight loss. One study, of 32 patients who had the procedure for stomach bleeding, found a pattern: Those who'd had the left gastric artery treated lost eight percent of their body weight, on average, over the next three months. In contrast, patients who had a different artery embolized lost one percent of their body weight.

Weiss explained that the left gastric artery supplies a part of the stomach called the fundus, which produces the hormone ghrelin. And ghrelin's main job is to stimulate hunger. Our hypothesis is that embolization causes weight loss by lowering ghrelin production, he added.