Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bariatric Embolization

Ghrelin is a hormone found mainly in the stomach. Ghrelin is known as the hunger hormone. It is believed that ghrelin tells our brain that we are hungry. Some forms of bariatric surgery cause a decrease in ghrelin, which reduces the desire to eat. In fact, sleeve gastrectomy, which is considered to be an effective weight loss surgery, achieves a large part of its success by removing about 85% or the stomach, where much of the ghrelin in our body is found. So reducing the ghrelin or the effect of ghrelin might lead to weight loss. Methods, other than bariatric surgery, that may eliminate or reduce ghrelin include diet and a bariatric procedure called bariatric embolization.

Researchers have found that following a diet containing healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains, and getting enough sleep, might decrease the ghrelin in our body. And a minimally invasive method that may reduce the effects of ghrelin is embolization--specifically bariatric embolization.

Bariatric embolization is where certain blood vessels to the stomach are blocked to decrease the ghrelin. In the procedure, a small catheter is inserted in the left gastric artery via the wrist or the groin. This artery supplies the upper part of the stomach. Tiny particles are then injected into the artery to block the flow of blood, and decrease the amount of ghrelin singling the brain.

Although bariatric embolization has not been proven for humans, animal studies at John's Hopkins University and Duke University showed impressive weight loss and ghrelin reduction in animal studies. And researchers at Harvard found that blocking the gastric artery to stop bleeding also caused patients to lose weight. So, bariatric embolization may one day be a tool for weight loss. And weight loss practitioners might want to monitor this research so they can be prepared to take advantage of the weight loss tool if and when it materializes. 


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