MONDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- In a scenario reminiscent of the film Fantastic Voyage, researchers have found a way to perform nearly surgery-free gastric bypass procedures in pigs using only a local anesthetic.
The procedure, done with moveable magnets, is completed in less than a half-hour, the researchers said, and reroutes the digestive tract without leaving behind any foreign material.
Although pigs may not seem to be "the best model for looking at resolution of obesity and diabetes," porkers who were treated with the new system gained less weight than did the controls, said the study's senior author, Dr. Christopher Thompson.
Thompson, an assistant professor at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, is presenting his findings at the Digestive Disease Week meeting of gastroenterologists in San Diego. He spoke to reporters at a Monday press conference.
Gastric or intestinal bypass surgery is effective treatment against obesity, diabetes and even some cancers and involves rerouting different parts of the intestine so that certain areas of the digestive tract are no longer needed.
The procedure typically involves invasive surgery, with all its attendant complications and risks.
However, the procedure used in this study is called SAMSEN (for Self-Assembling Magnets for Endoscopy). Here, researchers inserted two magnets via a catheter into the foregut and the hindgut of five pigs. Once inside the intestine, the magnets were manipulated to find each other and "mate" -- squeezing on the unneeded tissue until it died and shriveled away.
Within a few days this method worked to create a surgical bypass (formally called an anastomosis) that connected two previously separate parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Three months after the procedures, these bypasses were still large and open.
The procedure, if validated in other animal models an
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