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Could Stomach 'Pacemaker' Be New Weight-Loss Tool?
Date:4/8/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Silke Zeigler was fed up with "yo-yo" dieting in her struggle to maintain a healthy weight.

"The first realization was that diets didn't work and actually made things worse, as after finishing the diet I put the weight I'd lost back on," said Zeigler, 26, a taxi driver from the Wurzburg region of Germany. "So, I researched surgical options such as gastric bypass surgery or gastric banding. But, ironically, for these operations I wasn't overweight enough."

Then the university hospital in Wurzburg offered her a chance to participate in a trial of an innovative stomach "pacemaker," aimed at curbing appetite and controlling weight.

Zeigler embraced the idea, in large measure because of the treatment's reversibility. "That is, it can always be removed again without permanent effects on the anatomy of my stomach, such as [happens] in a gastric bypass surgery," Zeigler noted.

Ten months after receiving the implantable device in what she called a "quite easy" operation, Zeigler said she's lost about 80 pounds and kept it off. "I quickly noticed success because in the first few weeks I lost 20 kilos [44 pounds] and with every fading kilo my motivation increased," she said.

The device, not yet approved for use in the United States, is dubbed "abiliti" by its California-based maker, IntraPace. According to the company, the device is implanted in the stomach during a one-hour laparoscopic procedure via small insertions in the abdominal wall.

Once in place, the device uses its food-detection sensor to sense whenever a patient eats or drinks. This prompts it to emit low energy electrical pulses to nerves that trigger a feeling of rapid fullness.

According to IntraPace, users can feel "a sensation" from the tiny impulses the device delivers. Zeigler said that, in her case, "the feeling of fullness occurs much sooner now than before
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