'Pacing' Your Hunger Pangs

Device for stomach regulates hunger with electrical impulses

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MONDAY, May 17, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A "pacemaker" for the stomach that regulates hunger through electrical impulses could prove a revolutionary tool for weight loss.

The Implantable Gastric Stimulation device is being tested at eight sites across America, including Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

The device, manufactured by Transneuronix, is an electrical pulse generator about the size of a pocket watch. It is implanted under the skin in the abdomen and connected to the wall of the stomach with two wires.

It delivers electrical stimulation to the stomach, causing a feeling of fullness.

"Surgeons are still unsure exactly why it lessens the appetite," Dr. Robert Kushner, medical director of the Wellness Institute at Northwestern Memorial, said in a prepared statement. "Possible mechanisms of action include an impact on the nerves, changes in digestive hormones or direct stimulation of stomach muscles."

The device could replace other surgical treatments for weight loss, such as gastric bypass, if proven safe and effective.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about obesity.

SOURCES: Northwestern Memorial Hospital, news release, May 2004

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