Sunday, November 27, 2005

Gastric pacemaker for weight loss:
The experimental device - which is called an implantable gastric stimulator - is a small battery-operated electrical generator about the size of pocket watch that is surgically implanted in the abdomen. 2 wires connect it to the stomach wall.

In a similar way that a pacemaker sends electrical impulses to the heart, the experimental gastric pacemaker gives a small current to the stomach through 4 electrodes on the wires. The electrical current is activated, adjusted or monitored by a handheld computer in the doctor's office that communicates to the pacemaker through a radio signal. (Patients typically don't feel anything during gastric stimulation, according to the company.)

It is unclear how the electrical current works. It might cause the stomach to relax and signal a feeling of fullness. It could inhibit stomach hormones that normally increase appetite. Or it may send a satiety message to the brain.