Pryor noted that one of the more controversial devices on the ASMBS emerging technology list is the AspireAssist pump, which works by sucking the food right out of the stomach so that only about a third of the calories are absorbed by the body. Patients wait 20 minutes after eating, then empty 30 percent of their stomach contents into the toilet through a small, handheld device that connects to a skin-port discretely embedded on the outside of the abdomen.
Calories not digested are calories not absorbed, which, in theory, Pryor said, should lead to weight loss. In a one-year trial of 24 obese patients, patients, on average, lost 49 percent of excess weight, the equivalent of about 45 pounds.
Available in select regions of Europe, including Sweden, since 2011, the AspireAssist is still undergoing trials in the United States, with no word when it may be approved for use in this country.
Pryor pointed out that the most current Centers for Disease Control statistics put the percentage of Americans who are overweight or obese at nearly 70 percent, so new and novel approaches to weight loss are certainly needed. She said it's unlikely any one procedure will work for everyone and that any and all of these devises may eventually find their place in the arsenal in the fight against obesity.
"We are limited because our current bariatric operations are not right for everyone," she said. "Emerging technology might fill that gap. People who don't want to be cut may be willing to have a device implanted."