New Weight-Loss Device to Be Tested

Friday, October 22nd 2004, 10:53 am
By: News On 6

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Portland has been chosen as one of three nationwide sites where doctors will begin testing new weight-loss surgery technology designed to reduce weight without dramatic changes to digestive systems.

By this December, doctors at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital & Medical Center plan to begin implanting a pacemaker-like device in six to eight test patients. The device will fire electronic pulses through tiny wires leading to the stomach wall.

The hoped-for result is that the body will be tricked into feeling full after eating a small amount of food, followed by gradual weight loss.

Obese patients fed up with diets that don't produce lasting results are increasingly turning to weight-loss surgery for help. The most common forms of the surgery rearrange the body's anatomy, either by stapling parts of the stomach or changing the pathway for digestion.

The method that will be tested in Portland, ``leaves the stomach as is,'' said Dr. Emma Patterson, the director of Legacy's Obesity Institute who will implant the Tantalus in Portland-area patients. ``That's the appealing part of it.''

The device will also be tested in Los Angeles and Cleveland.

If tests prove successful, MetaCure, the device's Dutch maker, plans to ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval to conduct a longer-term study.

A Tantalus patient manual cautions that surgically implanting the device may cause infection, perforations of the stomach or bowel, or other complications. It also notes a small risk of death.

Tantalus tests have shown complication-free results so far, said Walid Haddad, the manager overseeing MetaCure's obesity project.