The AGA Institute has released a series of new best practice statements that gastroenterologists should use when considering a patient for endoscopic bariatric treatments or surgeries (EBTs).

“There is a need for less-invasive weight loss therapies that are more effective and durable than lifestyle interventions alone, less invasive and risky than bariatric surgery, and easily performed at a lower expense than that of surgery, thereby allowing improved access and application to a larger segment of the population with moderate obesity,” wrote the authors of the expert review, led by Barham K. Abu Dayyeh, MD of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The report is in the March issue of Gastroenterology (doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2017.01.035 ). “[EBTs] potentially meet these criteria and may provide an effective treatment approach to obesity in selected patients.”

The best practice statements come from a review of relevant studies in the Ovid, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Scopus databases, among others, that were published between Jan. 1, 2000, and Sept. 30, 2016.

EBTs should be used on patients who have already been unable to lose weight despite lifestyle interventions and more traditional weight loss methods. However, patients that undergo EBTs should also be placed on a weight loss regimen that includes diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.

In addition to being used for weight loss, they can also be used to transition a patient to traditional bariatric surgery, or to lower a patient’s weight so that they can undergo a different procedure unrelated to bariatric surgery. Anyone being considered for EBT, or a weight loss regimen involving EBT, should be thoroughly evaluated for comorbidities, behavior, or medical concerns that could lead to adverse effects.

Any patients who are placed on EBT regimens should be followed up regularly by their clinicians, to monitor their progress in terms of weight loss and the development of any adverse effects. Should any adverse outcomes arise, alternative therapies should be implemented as soon as possible. Clinicians are advised to know the ins and outs of risks, contraindications, and potential complications related to EBTs before ever implementing them in their practice, let alone recommending them to a patient.

Finally, it’s imperative that health care institutions with EBT programs make sure there are training protocols clinicians must stringently follow before being allowed to perform EBT procedures.

“Moving ahead, it will be important to better incorporate training in obesity management principles into the GI fellowship curriculum to have a more significant impact,” the authors wrote, adding that it’s important to study the “tandem and sequential use of a combination of EBTs and obesity pharmacotherapies in addition to a comprehensive life-style intervention program.”

Dr. Abu Dayyeh disclosed relationships with Apollo Endosurgery, Metamodix, Aspire Bariatric, and GI Dynamics. Other coauthors also disclosed potential conflicting interests.