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New Weapons in the War on Obesity

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Skeptical Scalpel

Skeptical Scalpel is a recently retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last two years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog averages over 900 page views per day, and he has over 5200 followers on Twitter.

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Skeptical Scalpel (click to view)

Skeptical Scalpel

Skeptical Scalpel is a recently retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last two years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog averages over 900 page views per day, and he has over 5200 followers on Twitter.

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A port to drain your stomach after eating. A fork with Bluetooth. I don’t think surgeons doing gastric bypasses have anything to worry about just yet.

Just when you think you’ve seen everything, along comes the AspireAssist. This device, not yet FDA-approved, consists of a tube implanted in the stomach, which leads to a port that is exposed on the surface of the abdomen.

Now, I’m not making this up.

You can eat whatever you want. Then 20 minutes after your meal, you attach a pump to the port and siphon and lavage the contents of your stomach into a bucket or basin, I guess. The manufacturer says that this will remove about a third of what is eaten leading to weight loss if done after every meal.

It doesn’t tell you how to gracefully dispose of the contents of the stomach, especially if you are dining at say, McDonald’s.

The only research on this product is in the form of a poster that was shown at a meeting of the Obesity Society in October of 2011. It was a randomized prospective trial of 11 patients who received the device plus “lifestyle intervention” compared with seven patients who had only “lifestyle intervention.” It was funded by the maker of the device.

Ten subjects completed a year with the device vs only four who stuck with the lifestyle intervention. Baseline characteristics were similar for the two groups. Percent weight loss and absolute weight loss were significantly greater in the device group. The average 1-year weight loss was 20 kg.

However, 10/11 patients had pain more than 4 weeks after surgery, and irritation and bleeding at the stoma occurred in about half the patients. Two had infections at the site. Constipation occurred in six patients and anemia in four.

If you can stomach it, there is a video at the company’s website. Thankfully, it’s an animation.

Medgadget describes the concept as “high-tech bulimia.”

If that doesn’t appeal to you, how about something more simple? Introducing the “smart fork.” A flashing light and vibration tells you when you are eating too fast. It monitors how long it takes you to eat your meal. It has Bluetooth and USB connectivity so you can upload data to your phone or computer. Here’s an excessively overproduced video explaining it.

But wait, there’s more: It’s dishwasher safe, as a view from inside the dishwasher shows. As far as I know, Ron Popeil has nothing to do with this product. At least it looks a lot less messy than washing out your stomach through your abdominal wall.

I don’t think surgeons doing gastric bypasses have anything to worry about just yet.

Skeptical Scalpel is a recently retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last two years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog averages over 900 page views per day, and he has over 5,200 followers on Twitter.

3 Comments

  1. My first thought: hey, at least they won’t have rotting teeth from induced vomiting…then you covered that! Maybe it was my tour in the ER with drug overdoses that puts me off lavage, but lavage? Really? I think anyone who would go for this procedure is more than a little odd. Totally creepy.

    I’m thinking this may be the first time “dining” and “McDonald’s” have been used in the same sentence.

    I do have an electric tooth brush that flashes a light when I brush too hard, but I don’t think I want a fork to do the same thing – for the same reason I never ask Suri a question or use a GPS!

    Reply
    • Karen, thanks for commenting. I agree with everything you said except regarding the GPS. I find it quite useful.

      I opted for an old-fashioned iPhone 4. My adult children all have 4Ss and 5s. They never use Siri.

      Reply
  2. I actually treated the first patient for an unrelated issue. He said he was in moderately severe pain for several weeks, had to be put on supplements for electrolyte imbalances and vitamin deficiencies, and could barely get out of bed at times. Apparently, he doesn’t care about any of this because he’s not obese anymore. He was a rather odd fellow.

    Reply

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