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A device that helps obese people with type 2 diabetes lose over two stone on average should be rolled out across the NHS, experts say.
The Endobarrier is a thin plastic sleeve that is fitted on patients via their mouth in less than an hour while under anaesthetic.
It is a reversible treatment that provides people with an alternative to drastic gastric bypass surgery.
The Endobarrier lines the first 60cm of the small intestine, preventing the body from digesting food in this area and causing it to be absorbed further down the intestine, making people feel full after just a small meal.
The idea is similar to gastric bypass but is less invasive, less risky, less expensive and can be removed.
A new study presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual meeting has found that the device is safe and effective.
Doctors from City Hospital, Birmingham, have so far implanted the Endobarrier in 50 patients as part of a NHS trial.
Results from the first 31 patients, who have now had the Endobarrier removed, show it helped them lose their weight and improved their health.
While the device was implanted, all the patients were encouraged to follow a healthy diet and exercise.
Two patients had the device removed early, one due to gastrointestinal haemorrhage and the other due to a liver abscess.
Of the 17 patients monitored for six months after Endobarrier was removed, 65 per cent managed to keep up weight loss and improved diabetes control.
Patients said they had more energy, were more able to exercise and had improved well-being. 94 per cent said they would recommend it to friends and family.
The research team said: “This first NHS Endobarrier service demonstrates that Endobarrier therapy is highly effective in patients with obesity and diabetes that has been very hard to treat, with high patient satisfaction levels, and an acceptable safety profile.
“The Endobarrier service could be a safe and cost-effective treatment for the NHS – it does not involve surgery and patients do not have to stay in hospital, so reducing the risk of infection.
“As endoscopy units are located all over the UK, our service could be readily disseminated.”