Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hospital surgeon first in North Carolina to implant gastric band

Southern Pines, NC
A surgeon at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital who specializes in treating morbidly obese patients is the first in North Carolina to implant a recently approved adjustable band around a patient's stomach to help with weight loss.

Bariatric surgeon Dr. Kenneth Mitchell Jr. first used the device on Feb. 18. Since then, he has laparoscopically placed the Realize adjustable gastric band in several other patients.

Certain patients who are morbidly obese, meaning their weight poses a serious risk to their health, are candidates for the procedure in which the adjustable gastric band is placed laparoscopically around the top of the stomach.

"There is a balloon on the inside of the band, and we can adjust its size by injecting or removing saline through a port that we place underneath the skin," Mitchell says. "It is a portion-control device, limiting the amount a person can eat. Patients don't feel it around their stomach; they just start feeling full a lot sooner."

To be a candidate for placement of an adjustable gastric band, a patient must meet the same strict standards for gastric bypass surgery. Both treatments are only for patients who meet the clinical criteria for morbid obesity.

The goal of both is not only to help patients lose weight, but also to help control obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea.

According to Mitchell, people who have a gastric band implanted typically lose less weight and lose it more slowly than those who have gastric bypass surgery.

Whichever treatment a patient chooses -- gastric band or gastric bypass -- it shouldn't be considered a cure for obesity, Mitchell says. Permanent lifestyle changes, especially those involving diet and exercise, are essential to long-term weight loss.

"Bariatric procedures just provide an opportunity for patients to control their health problems associated with obesity and to control and maintain their weight loss," Mitchell says.

The Realize adjustable gastric band that Mitchell has begun using was developed by a Swedish company and has been used successfully in Europe for a number of years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it for use in this country only last October.

The Realize device is very similar to the LapBand, another adjustable gastric band that received FDA approval in 2001. Both are made of silicone; the primary difference involves the size and width of the balloons.

"The two bands function the same way, and they are both good options," Mitchell says. "As a state and nationally recognized Center of Excellence for Bariatric Surgery, we are committed to providing all available surgical options to our bariatric patients.

"We feel this is in the best interest of our patients, and we will continue to use both adjustable gastric band systems. Some patients might prefer one over the other, and that's a decision we make together. It's nice that we now have a choice."


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