Background: Prior efforts to treat obesity with intragastric balloons were thwarted by high complication rates. Therefore, fundamental requirements for optimal balloon designs were defined. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effectiveness, the safety, and the tolerance of a new intragastric balloon.
Methods: Adults with treatment-resistant obesity and no GI contraindications to balloon placement were invited to participate in a randomized, double-blind trial of balloon or sham treatment of 3 months' duration. Patients (sham- and balloon-treated groups) in whom a preset weight-loss goal was achieved were given an additional 9 months of balloon treatment. After removal of the balloon at year 1, patients were followed for a second year without the balloon.
Results: Forty-three treatment-resistant patients (mean body mass index 43.3 kg/m 2) were enrolled. Five patients did not meet the preset weight-loss goal (nonresponse 11.6%). Three patients did not tolerate the balloon (7.0%), with endoscopy demonstrating severe esophagitis. Three other patients developed esophagitis that was related to use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, albeit prohibited (2 patients), or substantial weight loss with balloon treatment (1). In intention-to-treat analysis, sham- and balloon-treated groups had a similar mean weight loss of 11.2 kg (9.0%) and 12.9 kg (10.4%), respectively, during the first 3 months. During months 3 to 6, patients who had sham therapy in months 0 to 3 lost 8.8 kg (7.9%) during the first 3 months of balloon treatment. In contrast, patients in the balloon-treatment group lost 3.9 kg (3.5%) during months 3 to 6 (their second balloon treatment period). The overall weight loss was 20 kg (16.1%) and 16.7 kg (13.4%) after 6 months in the sham/balloon and in the balloon/balloon treated groups (not significant), respectively. After 1-year of balloon treatment, a mean weight loss of 21.3 kg (17.1%) was achieved in all patients, of which 12.6 kg (9.9%) was maintained at the end of the second balloon-free year; 47% of patients sustained a greater than 10% weight loss, with considerably reduced comorbidity. In 33 patients who completed the study per protocol, weight loss was 25.6 kg (20.5%) after 1 year and 14.6 kg (11.4%) after 2 years; 55% maintained a weight loss of greater than 10%. Interventional complications occurred in 1.6% (2/128) and balloon deflations in 2.3% (3/128).
Conclusions: For patients with treatment-resistant obesity, the intragastric balloon appeared to be safe but was not a treatment option in a fifth of patients. Although an independent benefit of balloon treatment beyond diet, exercise, and behavioral therapy could not be demonstrated in the first 3 months, balloon treatment for 1 year resulted in substantial weight loss, the greater part of which was maintained during the balloon-free second year.