By Rosie Wilson

Primary Obesity Surgery Endolumenal might be the newest solution to weight-loss surgery, and is being touted as a far less invasive and risky procedure than existing bariatric surgeries.

The surgery involved folding the stomach into pleats, which requires no incisions and can be done entirely by a tube passed down the throat. As a result of this, prospective patients would not have to stay in hospital overnight, and would potentially be able to return to work within two or three days of their surgery.

Present bariatric surgeries like gastric bands and gastric bypasses carry risks such as infection (which affects around one in twenty patients) and blood clots in the legs or lungs and internal bleeding (which affects around one in 100 patients).

Primary Obesity Surgery Endolumenal will see the surgeon insert an endoscope via the patient’s mouth and into the stomach, which gathers up the stomach wall and lining once in place. A stitch is used to ‘anchor’ the gathered tissue, before the process is repeated multiple times to create several pleats in the stomach. This prevents the stomach from expanding to accommodate food.

The procedure has already been tested in small trials in Europe, and is approved for UK use. In a Spanish study, 22 patients reported feeling full faster after their surgery, and had lost and average of 62% of their excess weight after a year. It is now being tested by a larger trial in the USA, under which 300 patients will undergo the procedure and be monitored.

Dr. Thomas Lavin, the trial leader of The Surgical Specialists of Louisiana, said:

“It could mean tens of thousands of patients may have an incredibly compelling new option to consider if they’ve struggled to lose weight with diet and exercise, but aren’t candidates for, or are not prepared to accept the risk of, traditional bariatric surgery.”

And Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum said:

“This is a very interesting concept and seems plausible. It is less invasive and more patient-friendly than other therapies – and that is something we really do need. Over the past ten years, there have been a succession of advances in bariatric surgery, and we have moved from the scalpel to the endoscope. This could be a very useful treatment.”