By Ariel SchwartzPosted 12.12.2011 at 10:02 am 16 Comments
In the 1980s, doctors noticed that chronic-ulcer patients who received a “vagotomy”—cutting the vagus nerve that controls the stomach—lost their ulcers and ended up with an intriguing side effect: They lost weight. The vagus nerve is the main route for signals between the stomach and the brain, regulating acid production, stomach expansion and satiation. Now medical companies are working on a pair of devices that modify these signals to help people with obesity.
European regulators have approved the sale of a new medical implant intended to be a less invasive option than gastric bypasses or stomach stapling procedures: a “gastric pacemaker” for the gut. When a person is eating, a device implanted in the abdomen triggers a premature notion of fullness by stimulating stomach nerves.