Vagal Nerve Block Therapy for Morbid Obesity, Bariatric Surgery Trends Explored

(HealthDay News) — Vagal nerve block therapy may be effective for weight loss in morbid obesity, and trends in bariatric surgery procedures have changed from 2006 to 2013, according to two studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Sayeed Ikramuddin, MD, from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues examined the effectiveness and safety of vagal nerve blockade therapy in a randomized trial involving 239 participants with morbid obesity (BMI of 40 to 45 or of 35 to 40 with at least one obesity-related condition). 

In the intent-to-treat analysis, the mean excess weight loss was 24.4% in the vagal nerve blockade therapy group and 15.9% in the sham group. The difference of 8.5 percentage points did not meet the target of 10 points (P=.71), although the vagal nerve block group experienced significantly greater weight loss (P=.002 in post-hoc analysis).

Bradley N. Reames, MD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined trends in bariatric surgery use using data from the 39-hospital Michigan Bariatric Surgery Collaborative between June 2006 and December 2013. 

The researchers found that 43,732 patients underwent bariatric surgery. From 2006 to 2013, sleeve gastrectomy increased by 61%, from 6.0% to 67.3% of all procedures. The use of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and of laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding decreased during the same period, from 58.0% to 27.4% and from 34.5% to 4.6%, respectively.

“These findings are important to inform primary care physicians of the predominant bariatric procedure currently used,” Reames and colleagues wrote.

Several authors from the Ikramuddin study disclosed financial ties to medical device companies, including EnteroMedics, which funded the ReCharge Study. One author from the Reames study disclosed financial ties to ArborMetrix.


  1. Ikramuddin S et al. JAMA. 2014;312(9):915-922.
  2. Arterburn DE, Fisher DP. JAMA. 2014;312(9):898-899.