Sunday, May 5, 2013


Over weight, obesity and morbid obesity are all considered progressive stages of transformation of normal living through normal eating into a frenetic eating regime with excess calories and fat consumed, more than the human body really needs. While many such affected persons have genuine intention in controlling food consumption, most of them find it difficult with their mind playing truant automatically leading to reaching for more and more foods! There are many disciplined consumers with an iron will to consciously control what they eat and how much they eat but a significant segment of the population cannot do this, swelling the ranks of bloated body owners day by day. In cases where body weight control is a necessity because of the adverse consequences of obesity on the health with its potential to cause diseases like diabetes, CVD, high blood pressure and kidney disorders, surgical intervention is increasingly becoming an option to many people vulnerable to health related set backs. While techniques like stomach bypass operation, stomach banding etc are used very commonly these days, a relatively new procedure has recently been developed which is considered less intrusive compared to others.  Called AspireAssist, the new technique for dealing with obesity is reported to be becoming popular. Here is a commentary on this development.  

In operation, a patient eats normally, with no restrictions. After eating, the food is temporarily (1-2 hours) stored in the stomach. Twenty minutes after eating, the patient attaches a handheld flow system to the valve, and empties their stomach contents directly into the toilet. Provision for rinsing the stomach and diluting the remaining stomach contents is provided. Essentially, the AspireAssist is a self-operated stomach pump. While this may seem a bit disgusting, the stomach tube and the access port can be implanted or removed in a short outpatient procedure far less invasive than either bypass or restriction surgery. The very similar stomach feeding tubes are routinely used in patients for decades with very few complications, and experience with the AspireAssist reportedly confirms the low complication rate. The real question, however, is how well does AspireAssist work? In several clinical trials, obese patients eating (and pumping) normal diets three times a day lost half of their excess weight (typically 20 kg (44 lb)) after a year of treatment. This is an effectiveness level similar to gastric restriction operations – gastric bypass typically produces more rapid weight loss, but involves a very serious operation.

Though it is a simple technique, how far it can be recommended to overweight people is a matter of speculation. The prerequisite for creating a port for aspirating the food after 20 minutes of ingestion and repeating the procedure 3 times a day can be very cumbersome! Is it not weird that people gorge food uninhibited and without any self control sans thinking about the consequences and then suffer the indignity of taking out the very food before it has a chance to be digested for generating calories? What about its impact on the life style of those who have to undergo this procedure which compels them to wear the port day in and day out? Can there be infection of the port and subsequent trauma associated with it? Probably this procedure may end up as an extreme remedy for those whose life is threatened by morbid obesity as extreme steps are needed to save the "patient"!


No comments: