Safe and effective – Stomach-stitch operation gets NHS approval

A procedure that reduces stomach size without open surgery has been deemed “safe and effective” to treat overweight people.

NHS England stands to save some of the £6.5billion a year it spends on diseases caused by obesity.

Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty involves inserting a flexible tube with a camera and medical instruments via the patient’s mouth.

Sections of the stomach wall are then folded and stitched together to create a tube-like sleeve, which makes the patient feel fuller sooner.

ESG takes just 90 minutes, with patients usually able to go home the same day, and is reversible.

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In the draft guidance, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said it should be offered to patients with a body mass index of 30 or more who have not lost weight with lifestyle changes and are not suitable for surgery.

Those from Asian and Black family backgrounds should be eligible if they have a BMI of at least 27.5.

Weight-loss surgery, such as gastric bands or bypasses, is offered to those with a BMI of 40 or more. This is lowered to over 35 in patients with conditions such as Type 2 diabetes.

Professor Jonathan Benger, chief medical officer at Nice, said: “Our committee has found ESG for people living with obesity to be a safe and effective procedure which can reduce the size of the stomach and, therefore, make them feel fuller on a smaller amount of food.

“One of the benefits is that this procedure can be carried out as a day case, and not involve an overnight stay, reducing the time people spend in the hospital compared with other surgical options. Recovery is quicker.”

According to Nice, obesity is the second-biggest preventable cause of cancer. The Health Survey for England 2021 found 25.9% of adults in England are obese, with a further 37.9 percent overweight.

Prof Benger added: “Surgical treatment options are in high demand and not everyone wants, or is fit enough, to undergo an operation like bariatric surgery. A non-invasive procedure like ESG could be a welcome new option for some people.”

A consultation on Nice’s guidance is now open and will run until October 26.

Earlier this year it gave weight-loss jab semaglutide, sold as Wegovy, the green light and about 50,000 are expected to benefit despite a global shortage.

Last month, Nice recommended tirzepatide – also known as Mounjaro – as a possible treatment for Type 2 diabetes. It is in the same family of weight-loss injections

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