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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jan 24;(1):CD004931.

Intragastric balloon for obesity.

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  • 1University of Medicine of Petropolis, Department of Clinical Surgery, Rua Almirante Saldanha, 184, Cremerie, PetrĂ³polis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 25645-230.



Obesity is one of the major public health problems of modern society. Intragastric balloon (IGB) treatment for obesity has been developed as a temporary aid. Its primary objective is the treatment of obese people, who have had unsatisfactory results in their clinical treatment for obesity, despite of being cared for by a multidisciplinary team, and super obese patients with a higher surgical risk. However, the effects of different IGB procedures compared with conventional treatments and with each other are uncertain.


To assess the effects of intragastric balloon in people with obesity.


Studies were obtained from computerised searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, The Cochrane Library and other electronic databases. Furthermore, reference lists of relevant articles and hand searches of selected journals were performed. Experts in the field were contacted.


Randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials fulfilling the inclusion criteria were used. Short term weight loss is common, so studies were included if they reported measurements after a minimum of four weeks follow-up.


Data were extracted by one reviewer and checked independently by two reviewers. Two reviewers independently assessed the quality of trials.


Nine randomised controlled trials involving 395 patients were included. Six out of nine studies had a follow-up of less than one year, the longest study duration was 24 months. Only a third of the analysed studies revealed a low risk of bias. No information was available on quality of life, all-cause mortality and morbidity. Compared with conventional management, IGB did not show convincing evidence of a greater weight loss. On the other hand, complications of intragastric balloon placement occurred, however few of a serious nature. The relative risks for minor complications like gastric ulcers and erosions were significantly raised.


Evidence from this review is limited for decision making, since there was large heterogeneity in IGB trials, regarding both methodological and clinical aspects. However, a co-adjuvant factor described by some authors in the loss and maintenance of weight has been the motivation and the encouragement to changing eating habits following a well-organized diet and a program of behavioural modification. The IGB alone and the technique of positioning appear to be safe. Despite the evidence for little additional benefit of the intragastric balloon in the loss of weight, its cost should be considered against a program of eating and behavioural modification.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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