The Bioenteric Intragastric Balloon (BIB) as a treatment for obesity: Poor results in Asian patients

The Bioenteric Intragastric Balloon (BIB, Inamed Health, Santa Barbara, CA, USA) is an endoscopic method for achieving restriction of gastric intake in obese patients. It is less invasive and cheaper than bariatric surgery, but can only be left in the stomach for six months. We report our experience with the BIB in Singapore. Since its introduction to our hospital in 2004, a prospective database has been kept of all patients undergoing BIB insertion. This database was used to retrieve the information for this study. 20 patients have undergone BIB insertion. Mean patient age was 40 (range, 28-52) years and 85 percent were female. Mean body weight was 79.6 (range, 67.6- 103.7) kg. Mean body mass index (BMI) was 31.5 (range, 27.8-38.8) kilogramme per square metre. Mean excess weight was 21.2 (range, 11.9-37.6) kg. The BIBs were inserted under conscious sedation. BIB intolerance was a major problem and four patients (20 percent) required early BIB removal due to refractive nausea and epigastric discomfort. All remaining BIBs were removed after six months under conscious sedation. The mean maximum weight loss during the six months was 5.9 (range, 1.4-13.4) kg. The mean maximum percentage of excess weight lost was 32.4 (range, 6.7-87). Weight loss was reasonably preserved at the end of the sixmonth period, but by one year, when all the patients had been without BIBs for at least six months, the mean weight loss for the group compared to pre-BIB weight was only 1.5 kg (range, weight gain 5.3 kg to weight loss 9 kg). The mean percentage excess weight loss at one year was 10.9 (range, 15.1 percent weight gain to 31.3 percent weight loss). Only four patients (20 percent) regarded their experience with the BIB as a success. The BIB is poorly tolerated by Asian patients, even when lower volumes are inserted into the balloon to compensate for the smaller Asian stature. Although temporary weight loss can be achieved, mandatory removal of the BIB at six months results in regain of the lost weight in the majority of patients. Eligible patients (BMI 32.5 and above) should be encouraged to undergo bariatric surgery rather than BIB to achieve long-term reliable weight loss. Patients who are ineligible for bariatric surgery may benefit from BIB, especially if they have severe comorbidities and have failed to lose weight by any other means in a validated weight management programme, but the chance of long-term success is poor.