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Published on November 28, 2016

Answering your questions about the new ORBERA intragastric balloon

In the last issue of MedLink News, we reported on a new FDA-approved, non-surgical weight-loss option: ORBERA intragastric balloon. The article prompted questions, so here we answer some of the most frequently asked.

What is ORBERA?

With ORBERA, a durable gastric balloon is placed in the stomach using a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure performed with sedation—similar to the sedation used for a colonoscopy. The balloon is filled with about half a liter (600 ml) of saline; however, volume may vary depending on the patient’s body structure. There are no incisions, stitches or scars.

The balloon takes up space in the stomach to help the patient lose weight and is removed after six months. The balloon is used with a yearlong supervised diet and behavior modification program.

When is it used?

The device is used in adult patients with a BMI of 30-40 kg/m2 who have been unable to lose weight through diet and exercise.

It may be an option for your patients who do not qualify for weight-loss surgery. It’s also a medically supervised option for those who need to lose weight to qualify for another surgery such as orthopedic surgery, or to improve outcomes with fertility treatments.

OBERA is not right for everyone—there are some restrictions based on the patient’s overall health and medical history.

What are the expected results?

Results vary by patients, but ORBERA showed significant benefits in a clinical study. Those who used the ORBERA intragastric balloon lost an average of 21.8 pounds (10.2 percent of body weight) after the device had been in place for six months. The group who participated in the same behavior modification program, but did not receive the device lost an average of 7.0 pounds (3.3 percent of body weight).

What is the process?

To start, your patient attends a free informational seminar, Understanding Your Weight Management Options, at Gundersen Onalaska Clinic. After that, he or she meets with the medical team, including a nutritionist, psychologist and surgeon. The same-day procedure is then scheduled. From start to balloon placement takes about one to two months.

After the balloon is placed, the patient meets frequently with the nutritionist and medical team for six months. After six months the balloon is removed, but the patient continues to meet with the medical team for weight management.

What is the cost?

The entire ORBERA Intragastric Balloon System is about $8,100. This cost includes balloon, insertion and removal, pre- and post-procedure medical and nutrition management for one year. This procedure is not covered by any insurance company.

What are the possible side-effects?

In the first few days after placement, the patient may experience nausea or vomiting. In some patients this may last a week or two. There are medications to help manage these symptoms as the patient adjusts to the balloon.

If you or your patient have any other questions about Orbera, contact the Gundersen Bariatric Surgery Center via MedLink at (800) 336-5465 or (608) 775-5465 in La Crosse.

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