A new study has found that people with mild to moderate obesity can lose weight if the nerve that transmits hunger signals to the brain is frozen.
"Medical literature shows the vast majority of weight-loss programs fail, especially when people attempt to reduce their food intake," David Prologo, lead author of the study and a radiologist from Emory University School of Medicine, said.
Therefore the treatment was developed, especially to reduce the attrition that often follows weight loss.
The study presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting said the freezing is done by inserting a needle at the patient's back. Radiologists, directed by CT scan live images, use argon gas to freeze the nerve located at the base of the esophagus, which is the one sending signals to the brain that the stomach is empty.
"We're not trying to eliminate this biological response, only reduce the strength of this signal to the brain to provide a new, sustainable solution to the difficult problem of treating mild obesity," Prologo said.
Ten subjects with a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 37 underwent the procedure for the study. All of them reported decreased appetite during the following 90 days. The overall average weight loss was 3.6 percent of initial body weight and there was an average decline of nearly 14 percent of the excess BMI. No procedure-related complications or adverse reactions were reported.
However, the authors said the study had limitations, including the small sample size and the interim nature of the results.
More subjects are being recruited for a larger clinical trial to test the efficacy and durability of the procedure.