Obese U.S. mom has brain surgery for weight loss

Mon Mar 9, 2009 6:38pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Brain surgery for weight loss?

West Virginia mother of two Carol Poe, 60, is only the second person in the United States to undergo deep brain stimulation for weight loss after trying everything from diets to having her stomach stapled.

Last month, she took part in a clinical trial at West Virginia University hospital in which neurosurgeons drilled into her brain and used electricity to control her feelings of hunger and satisfaction.

Poe's story will be told on ABC Television's "Nightline" program on Monday, March 9.

Poe, 5 ft 2 in and who weighed 230 pounds before the surgery, said that at her heaviest she weighed about 490 pounds.

Dr Julian Bailes, chairman of West Virginia University's department of neurosurgery, said Poe was a good candidate for the radical treatment.

"This is not for overweight patients. It's for obese patients," Bailes told "Nightline."

"This is a frontier of medicine...to be able to generate tiny pulses of electricity in these deep nuclei of the brain, and to see what effect they may have on behavior, including in this case the behavior of eating and the issue of uncontrolled appetite," he said.

Bailes told Reuters that the West Virginia University hospital was the only one in the United States, and the only center he knew of worldwide, using the deep brain stimulation technique specifically on obese patients.   Continued...