London: A balloon inserted into a tiny capsule that you have to swallow could be a radical new treatment for obesity.The silicone balloon developed by a San Diego-based firm works by filling up the stomach which makes the brain think the tummy is full, curbing appetite.

The silicone balloon is packed inside a gelatine capsule that dissolves within minutes of reaching the stomach. It's then inflated by the doctor using a long thin tube, about the width of a piece of string, which is attached to the balloon at one end and protrudes from the patient's mouth at the other, the Daily Mail reported.
    
Air is pumped through the tube into the balloon until it reaches the size of a hamburger. The tube is then pulled to release it and a self-sealing valve traps the air inside the balloon so that it does not deflate.
    
It takes five minutes to inflate and the patient does not need to be sedated or have an anaesthetic. The new treatment has already been approved for use in the UK and could become available within the next year or so.
    
Although gastric balloons are already used in the treatment of obesity, they are not without problems. These work on the same principle as the capsule but are inserted surgically.
    
It also requires a special type of probe — called an endoscope - to push the balloon down through the gullet and into the stomach before it can be inflated. This can leave the patient with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, heartburn and diarrhoea in the first few days after the procedure because of the irritation caused to the
throat, gullet and stomach. So far, four small trials have been carried out on humans using the balloon capsule, developed by firm Obalon Therapeutics.

At the end of the treatment, a thin probe - less bulky than those used for existing balloons - is fed down to the stomach to deflate the balloon and retrieve it in a procedure that takes around ten minutes.

(Agencies)

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