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Implant boost for diabetes patients

A new treatment provides the benefits of gastric bypass surgery without the associated surgical risks, trial shows.

Surgeons at a British hospital have pioneered a new treatment that could remove the need for medication to treat type 2 diabetes while helping sufferers lose weight.

Medics at Southampton General Hospital have performed the first 15 implants of a new device called the EndoBarrier.

The small plastic sleeve is placed into the small intestine via the mouth for up to 12 months and works by acting as a wall between food entering the stomach and the intestine so it cannot be absorbed.

The device ensures food bypasses a section of the upper intestine, giving the body less time to digest it. This enables greater control over metabolic rate and leads to reduced blood sugar levels.

In a 12-month study, patients fitted with the EndoBarrier achieved weight loss of more than 20 per cent (on average 22.2 kg) of their total body weight.

The sleeve is also performing as well so far as the more invasive gastric band procedure in helping weight loss.

Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust is one of three centres in the UK participating in a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the device in patients who are overweight and suffer with type 2 diabetes. The other two are Trafford General Hospital in Manchester and St Mary's Hospital, London.

Consultant general surgeons Jamie Kelly and James Byrne at Southampton are the first to complete the initial part of the project and are pleased with the early findings.

"Initial results among the 15 patients who have had the EndoBarrier inserted have been really encouraging and we are very excited about the potential impact of this new treatment for patients," said Byrne.

The EndoBarrier is implanted under a short general anaesthetic and performed as a day case procedure, with all 15 patients participating in the trial discharged home within hours of completion.

Byrne said his team is already noticing patients with diabetes requiring less medication to manage their condition, while they are also achieving rapid weight loss.

The team hopes the procedure will be made widely available to NHS patients across the country. But at present, the EndoBarrier is only available as a private procedure.

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