Implantable Gastric Stimulator

Implantable gastric stimulator

The implantable gastric stimulator (IGS), originally developed in Italy, comprises two wires, or electrodes that are implanted into the wall of the stomach in a laparoscopic (keyhole) operation. These are attached to a small battery powered simulator that is inserted beneath the skin in the subcutaneous tissues to the side of the abdomen. The stimulator sends out programmed electrical impulses to the electrode in the stomach wall, in much the same way as a heart pacemaker works.

The precise way in which this device works is not really known, but it is believed that the impulses stimulate the stomach to send nerve and/or biochemical messages to the brain to bring about a feeling of "fullness" or satiety. In a lean person, such feelings stop or reduce the amount of food and liquids consumed. By artificially inducing satiety, implantees should consume fewer calories, resulting in significant, long-term, weight loss. Each device is programmed individually based on the level of stimulation needed to control that person’s appetite. Early trials in 450 people showed that 80% of them lost weight following implantation of the device. 60% lost more than 10% of their body weight over a 29-month follow-up period.

Insertion of the IGS device is associated with few side effects and it can be safely kept in the body for many years.