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Weight Loss Procedure Shrinks Muscle As Well As Fat

Left gastric artery embolization, a recent procedure designed to treat obesity, causes muscle as well as fat loss according to a new study from the Radiological Society of North America. Researchers emphasize how this muscle loss brings attention to the necessity of proper nutrition following the procedure. It is currently being investigated via clinical trials.

How It Works

The embolization procedure works by injecting microscopic beads into the artery that supplies the stomach with blood. The beads block blood flow to the organ to reduce production of the ghrelin hormone that stimulates hunger. And while early studies found the procedure to assist with weight loss, there is not enough information on how it changes the body’s muscle and fat compositions.

"There has been lots of research focused on the efficacy of gastric artery embolization for weight loss," said the study's lead author, Edwin A. Takahashi, M.D., a vascular and interventional radiology fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "However, there has been no data on what is contributing to the weight loss, whether the patients are losing fat, as desired, or muscle mass, or some combination of the two."

Changes To The Skeletal Muscle Index

The skeletal muscle index, or the measure of the amount of muscle connecting to the skeleton for limb movement, dropped by 6.8% following the procedure. Loss of skeletal muscle can interfere with metabolism and physical function, which can increase the person’s injury risk.

"The significant decrease in the amount of skeletal muscle highlights the fact that patients who undergo this procedure are at risk for losing muscle mass and need to be managed accordingly after procedure," Dr. Takahashi said. "We must make sure they receive adequate nutrition to minimize the amount of muscle tissue they lose."

Researchers are still investigating the procedure.
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