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FDA alerts clinicians to gastric balloon deaths


A total of 12 deaths over the past 2 years have been linked to the use of liquid-filled intragastric balloon devices for the treatment of obesity, according to an alert from the Food and Drug Administration issued on June 4.

Seven of these deaths occurred in patients in the United States; four involved the ORBERA Intragastric Balloon System, and three involved the ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System.

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Four of the deaths reported worldwide since 2016 occurred following gastric perforation within a month of surgery (three with the ORBERA system and one with the ReShape system), according to the FDA. A fifth death involving the Orbera system remains under investigation by the manufacturer.

The FDA has approved updated labeling for the ORBERA and ReShape balloon systems in the United States. The labels contain more information about possible death associated with the use of these devices in the United States. The manufacturers’ sites, Apollo Endosurgery and ReShape Lifesciences, provide more details about the new labeling.

In a letter to health care providers, the FDA advised clinicians to educate bariatric surgery patients about the symptoms of complications from balloon procedures, including not only gastric perforation but also esophageal perforation, balloon deflation, gastrointestinal obstruction, and ulceration. In addition, the FDA reminded clinicians to monitor patients during the entire course of treatment for additional complications, including acute pancreatitis and spontaneous hyperinflation.

Any adverse events involving intragastric balloon systems should be reported to the FDA through MedWatch, the FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting program.

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