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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

From the SIR residents and fellows section

Topic: Gastric Artery Embolization Trial for the Lessening of Appetite Nonsurgically (GET LEAN): Six Month Preliminary Data 

Syed, M I, Morar K, Shaikh A, Craig P, Khan O, Patel S, Khabiri, H. Gastric Artery Embolization Trial for the Lessening of Appetite Nonsurgically (GET LEAN): Six Month Preliminary Data. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2016. 27 (10): 1502-8.

Click here for abstract

In the October 2016 edition of JVIR, a report on the 6 month safety and efficacy results of a pilot study of left gastric artery (LGA) embolization for the treatment of morbid obesity was discussed. Four patients, three women, one man, with an average age of 41 y (range 30-54), with a mean weight of 259.3lbs, and mean BMI of 42.4 kg/m2 had their LGA embolized with 300-500-um Bead Block particles for the treatment of morbid obesity.

Weight loss was calculated as a percentage versus baseline, as well as b percentage excess body weight loss as follows, where IBW represents “Ideal Body Weight”, using the Devine formula.

Treatment with a PPI was started one week prior to embolization, and continued one month after the procedure. The procedure was performed via a femoral artery access or a left radial artery access.

No immediate complication other than nausea and mild vomiting was reported. Average body weight loss among the four patients at 6 months was 20.3 lbs. Average body weight loss as a percentage was 8.5%. Average excess body weight loss at 6 months was 17.2%. Patient 4, a diabetic patient taking only oral medications, showed improvement in hemoglobin A1c levels (7.4% to 6.3%) at 3 months, which remained at 6 months. QOL measures showed that the average physical component score improved by 9.5 (on an absolute scale of 0–100), and the average mental component score improved by 9.6 (on an absolute scale of 0–100), at 6 months.

In conclusion, preliminary data supports LGA embolization as a potentially safe procedure that warrants further investigation for weight loss in morbidly obese patients.

Clinical Pearls

What were some patient selection and clinical management steps considered for this procedure?

Patients with morbid obesity, (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2) whose previous attempts at weight loss through diet, exercise, and behavior modification had failed were recruited for this study. These patients also declined to participate in bariatric surgery, as part of the consent process. A complete history and physical exam was performed prior to the procedure.

All patients had dietary consultations for preoperative evaluation and were followed the procedure by a dietician. Any patient with type II diabetes (n = 1) was evaluated by an endocrinologist before participation in the study. Blood glucose levels were monitored with adjustments of diabetic drugs as needed by the endocrinologist throughout the study. Any female patient of childbearing potential (n = 2) was required to use two forms of contraception during the study (oral and barrier), which was monitored by their primary care provider or gynecologist. An upper endoscopy study was performed at baseline and 3 days after the procedure in all patients.

If any patient had any abnormality on 3-day endoscopy (n = 3), upper endoscopy was repeated at 30 days. Fasting morning, plasma ghrelin, leptin, and CCK measurements, in addition to BMI and other baseline and follow-up tests or procedures, were performed at regular intervals.

What were the confounding factors and limitations of this study?

The presence of superficial symptomatic gastric ulcerations (n = 3) was a confounding variable regarding mechanism of weight loss. One known mechanism of weight loss caused by gastric ulcerations is the postprandial pain that creates a fear of food. This postprandial pain was absent in the patients who had superficial gastric ulcerations after the initial few days. 

One other mechanism of weight loss caused by gastric ulceration is appetite suppression. In the present study, all patients except for patient 2 subjectively reported appetite reduction that persisted beyond 30 days (after documented ulcer healing by endoscopy).

Another potential confounding variable was the medications used (PPI and sucralfate). There is no evidence that the short-term use of a PPI or sucralfate has any effect on weight loss. In fact, according to literature, long-term PPI use may result in weight gain. Notably, no dietary restrictions (to promote healing) were given to patients who had superficial gastric ulcerations.

Another confounding variable is that diet modification and nutritional supervision may have occurred that could have accounted for weight loss.

Limitations of this study included the small sample size and relatively short follow up period. Another limitation of the study was that diet and caloric intake records were not obtained.

Questions to Consider

What physiologic pathway is altered when LGA is embolized?

Left gastric artery (LGA) embolization may fulfill a role as a minimally invasive alternative to the current surgical treatment of gastric bypass or reduction surgery for morbidly obese patients. The LGA supplies the fundus of the stomach, where it is known that the hormone ghrelin (one of the hormones responsible for appetite) is produced. Ghrelin is a 28-amino acid hunger-stimulating peptide and hormone that is produced mainly by P/D1 cells lining the fundus of the stomach and epsilon cells of the pancreas. Ghrelin is the only known circulating orexigenic, or appetite-enhancing, hormone

What are the risks / complications of Bariatric Surgery to manage obesity?

Anastomotic leaks, bowel obstruction, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, GI bleed, dumping syndrome, and anesthesia risks. Also reported, the 30 day mortality rate associated with BS is 0.31%, as of 2014, lower than previously reported in 2004. However, it is reported that repeat operation rate is 7%, and the overall complication rate is 17%. It is estimated that only 1% of eligible patients elect to undergo bariatric surgery.

Post author:

Ali Alikhani, MD
Diagnostic Radiology Resident, PGY-4
University of Tennessee Methodist Healthcare

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