Implant treats obesity by blocking hunger signals
EnteroMedics' Maestro System has become the first obesity device to be approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in ten years. The device, which the company compares to a pacemaker, is designed to block signals in the nervous system to reduce feelings of hunger.
Obesity is a growing problem across the world. It is estimated that one third of Americans are clinically obese. While eating less is may present the simplest and most obvious solution for many, combating obesity or stimulating weight loss, especially in the morbidly obese, is not a linear problem. Often it is simply not practicable or effective for those treating obese patients to recommend diet and exercise, and more drastic treatments such bariatric surgery are too invasive for some patients or may have other adverse effects.
The now FDA approved Maestro System, which has been in use in Australia since mid-2011, is implanted via an outpatient procedure. By applying electrical pulses in what EnteroMedics calls VBLOC vagal blocking therapy, it is designed to interfere with signals between the stomach and the brain along the vagus nerve, which regulates the digestive system. Like other approaches to suppressing appetite , the desired result is to decrease feelings of hunger or induce a sense of satiety. The implanted system is connected to a battery which must be regularly recharged by the patient.