Publish date: 11 October 2022

Researchers at UCLH and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust are to trial a new weight loss treatment which involves reducing blood supply to part of the stomach.

The researchers have been awarded £1.2million by the NIHR Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation programme to investigate whether a minimally invasive procedure called left gastric artery embolisation (LGAE) is more effective in reducing weight compared to receiving diet and exercise advice.

Existing treatments for obesity include dietary advice, drugs and weight loss surgery known as gastric bypass surgery. While gastric bypass surgery can be effective, some patients decide against this option because of possible complications such as abdominal pain, chronic nausea, vomiting and low blood sugar levels.

LGAE is most commonly used to treat bleeding in the stomach or intestines by reducing blood supply to a specific area at the top of the stomach. LGAE reduces the production of the hormone called ghrelin, which controls appetite. Previous research has shown patients having stomach embolisation for bleeding stomach ulcers in the top of the stomach lost more weight than patients having embolisation to other organs or other areas of the stomach.

The procedure involves using x-rays to guide an injection of small particles (like grains of sand) into the arteries to a targeted area of the stomach. The procedure takes under an hour.

Dr Jowad Raja, Consultant Interventional and Vascular Radiologist and Principal Investigator of the trial at UCLH, said: “There is a big need for additional treatments for obesity, and we have good reason to believe that this approach might work well for patients, based on what we see with patients who are given LGAE for other conditions. The treatment we are looking at is less invasive than traditional surgery for obesity, can be done quickly, and may be able to make a real difference to patients.”

The research team will recruit 76 patients, who have a BMI between 35 and 50, to a one-year study. Thirty-eight patients will have the LGAE procedure and 38 patients a placebo procedure at UCLH or St. Mary’s Hospital.

Patients will then be followed up to see the impact of their treatment on weight loss and compare the two groups. They will also attend appointments with a specialist dietician and obesity medicine physician.

Dr Julian Hague, Consultant Radiologist at UCLH and Co-investigator for the trial, said: “This research will help us understand how well LGAE may work for patients with obesity and how acceptable it is to them. The treatment could have real benefits to the people who receive it both in the short term and long term. In addition, the treatment could be more cost effective for the NHS.”

To find out more about the trial, email jowad.raja1 -at- or embiotrial -at-