Complications linked to the insertion or extraction of the balloon
Apart from complications inherent in upper digestive endoscopy (perforation or digestive hemorrhage, bronchial inhalation by gastric reflux, cardiac rhythm disorders) or the anesthetic, a certain number of complications specific to the insertion of the balloon is possible. These are pharyngo-esophageal damage when the balloon is introduced, inflation of an incorrectly positioned balloon in the esophagus or duodenum with the risk of perforation.
Mechanical complications due to the balloon
Ulceration of the gastric wall which could result in perforation has been described (heaviness of the balloon filled with 100% liquid) necessitating an urgent surgical operation with risk to life. Digestive tract obstructions are possible where there is migration, which is seen if the balloon is not sufficiently filled or is partially deflated. It can be a gastric obstruction if the balloon becomes impacted in the gastric antrum or an intestinal obstruction which sometimes requires a surgical operation. The risk of these complications is greatly increased if the maximum duration of six months for the implantation of the intra-gastric balloon is not respected.
Functional complications (side effects)
Insertion of an intra-gastric balloon is sometimes accompanied in the early days by gastric heaviness, and nausea and vomiting which normally recede in 2 to 7 days. Symptoms of gastro-esophageal reflux are also possible. These problems can be corrected by appropriate treatment with drugs (anti-secretory medication, anti-nausea drugs). Vomiting may persist necessitating premature removal of the balloon.
These result from uncontrolled or neglected vomiting which can be the cause of dehydration, metabolic alkalosis, hypocalcaemia, and functional renal failure. Hypocalcaemia can be responsible for serious cardiac rhythm disorders with a risk to life.
Absence or a refusal of dietary treatment concomitant with the insertion of an intra-gastric balloon compromises the results as far as weight loss is concerned. Similarly, the risk of regaining weight after the removal of the intra-gastric balloon is even more likely if the obesity is longstanding and serious.