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The Tummy Tube That May Save Millions

Jan 3, 2011

A new treatment for obesity and diabetes could save enough money to have a sizeable impact on the economy, a surgeon claims….

So far 20 diabetic patients have been fitted with the tube which is inserted without an operation in just 15 minutes and has been shown to help patients lose up to a fifth of their body weight. It helps patients with Type 2 diabetes by causing the gut to release a hormone that increases the body’s use of insulin and lowers blood sugar levels. The tube, currently being used in hospital trials, stays there between six and 12 months before being removed. By then, doctors believe patients will have improved to the extent that they no longer need daily insulin injections.


Mr. Alberic Fiennes, a consultant bariatric surgeon at St. Anthony’s Hospital in North Cheam, Surrey, UK, who is performing some of the procedures, said, “The size of the diabetes and obesity problem is so big that if this device could help it would have a sizeable impact on the UK economy.”

Held in place by a tiny spring, the Endobarrier sits in the duodenum — the entrance from the stomach to the small intestine — and also stops fats, sugar and salts from food being absorbed by the body, restricting calorie intake.

But doctors say that the main reason it helps weight-loss is that it causes large amounts of undigested food to reach the small intestine, which results in an increase of another, appetite-suppressing hormone in the gut.

This is of great benefit to sufferers of Type 2, or adult, diabetes, which is closely linked to obesity.

However, doctors say the tube, costing about $3100 per patient, could also eventually be used as a much cheaper and safer alternative to gastric band or gastric bypass operations, which can cost $4500 and $7500 respectively.

EndobarrierSuch a change could shave ­millions off the cost to the UK’s NHS of obesity surgery, estimated to be 50 million a year.

Jamie Forrest, a father of two, was the first patient to be fitted with the device in the UK trial at Trafford General Hospital in Manchester. The 48-year-old businessman weighed 259lbs, and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago.

He was fitted with the sleeve last month and has already lost 14 pounds, as well as reducing his diabetes medication by half.

By the end of the six-month trial, doctors expect him to reach 196 pounds and to be completely independent of diabetes drugs. Mr. Forrest, of Manchester, said: “The fitting of the device was very easy. When I came round I could feel where it was in my gut. But now I can’t feel a thing.”

Professor Nadey Hakim, who helped fit the device, said: “This treatment is going to be a lot cheaper than treating kidney complications of diabetes or even having to carry out a transplant.”

Daily Mail, UK