How is a gastric balloon inserted?
Before the gastric balloon is inserted, the esophagus and stomach must be mirrored (esophagogastroscopy).
Gastric Balloon Procedure Q&A 2022
How is a gastric balloon inserted?
Before the gastric balloon is inserted, the esophagus and stomach must be mirrored (esophagogastroscopy). This examination serves to rule out pathological changes that speak against the insertion of a gastric balloon. During the gastroscopy, the doctor pushes a so-called endoscope through the mouth through the esophagus to the stomach. It has a light source and a camera. In this way, the doctor can examine the esophagus and stomach for pathological changes.
To insert the balloon, the doctor pulls back the endoscope and pushes the folded gastric balloon up a tube into the stomach. When the balloon has reached the stomach, the doctor uses the endoscope to check that it is in the correct position. The balloon is then filled through the tube with about 400 to 700 milliliters of blue-colored saline. The doctor then pulls off the tube and uses the endoscope to check the correct placement of the balloon again.
The procedure takes an average of 20 to 30 minutes and is performed under light twilight sleep (sedation). It can be done on an outpatient basis. Because of the anesthesia, however, the patient should not actively participate in road traffic.
Some patients experience bloating, nausea, and vomiting after balloon insertion. A hospital stay of about one to two days is then required to provide the patient with fluids via the vein.
How is the gastric balloon removed?
The gastric balloon is removed after six months at the latest to limit the risk of the balloon wall tearing due to the constant effects of gastric acid and gastric movement. Another gastroscopy is necessary to remove the gastric balloon. During the procedure, the balloon is punctured so that the fluid can escape. As a result, the gastric balloon loses its firm consistency and can simply be pulled back through the esophagus. The entire procedure usually only takes a few minutes.
Efficacy of a gastric balloon
The effectiveness of the gastric balloon can vary greatly from person to person. A weight loss of around 10 to 25 kilograms is realistic. The weight loss is particularly pronounced in the first three months.
Success in losing weight depends to a large extent on how well the patient manages to maintain a changed eating behavior at the same time. Anyone who consumes a lot of sweet drinks or sweets can even continue to gain weight despite the gastric balloon. Overall, the effectiveness of the gastric balloon is significantly lower than that of the surgical procedure.
The side effects of a gastric balloon can be significant, especially in the first few days after insertion. Typical are nausea, abdominal cramps and a pronounced feeling of fullness. These symptoms subside as soon as the stomach has become accustomed to the foreign body. This is usually the case after about three to seven days. Even in the long term, however, some patients complain of a constant feeling of pressure or fullness, belching and heartburn. If the gastric balloon causes permanent problems, it should be removed prematurely.
Risks and complications
As with any medical procedure, gastric balloon insertion carries certain risks. Risks specific to the procedure include injury to the teeth, esophagus, or stomach from the endoscope. However, this is very rare.
What to do if a gastric balloon bursts?
In principle, there is also a risk that the balloon will burst. Then the blue-colored liquid escapes from the balloon and is absorbed into the blood via the mucous membrane. This quickly turns the urine blue. Those who wear gastric balloons must watch out for this blue discoloration of the urine, as it indicates a leak in the balloon.
A damaged gastric balloon must be removed immediately with a gastroscopy (endoscopic), otherwise the collapsed balloon can cause an intestinal blockage. Anyone who suspects a burst gastric balloon should see their doctor immediately. If the balloon bursts at night, the emergency room of a hospital should be headed for.
Air-filled or liquid-filled gastric balloon?
The gastric balloon can be filled with either liquid or air. Some doctors are critical of the air-filled variant for a number of reasons: Firstly, a leak in the air-filled gastric balloon is not immediately noticeable because the urine is not blue. This also increases the risk of the balloon escaping into the intestine and thus of an intestinal obstruction. The weight reduction with the air-filled balloon may also be worse, since it only weighs about 30 grams. The liquid-filled gastric balloon, on the other hand, has a weight of around 450 to 700 grams and thus ensures a faster feeling of satiety. Also important for air travelers: Since gases expand at high altitude, you must not fly with an air-filled gastric balloon.
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