Stomach Stapling Last Option (cont.)

"Severely obese patients are considered to be at high risk for any type of surgery because of these co-morbidities," said Dr. Merkle, currently associate professor in the department of radiology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. "In addition, there is a wide spectrum of procedure-specific complications following Roux-en-Y gastric bypass."

In the study, there were eight reports of anastomotic leaks and five instances of staple line disruption in the stomach, complications specific to Roux-en-Y. Three incidents of pulmonary embolism, two cases of pneumonia, and single cases of severe infection and open abdominal wound disruption were also reported - complications that are more prevalent among severely overweight patients undergoing surgery, according to Dr. Merkle.

There were also two deaths within 30 days of the 335 surgeries, but no additional deaths have been reported in the nearly 600 gastric bypass surgeries performed to date.

"Gastric bypass surgery is not about losing weight the easy way and looking good - the operation is about improving health," Dr. Merkle said. "There should be a long-term commitment by the patient. Eating habits must change. For example, patients will need lifelong vitamin supplements. Some patients lose weight, then gain it back again. Not everyone gets the results they want, but they all face the risk of these complications."

Co-authors of the study were Thomas A. Stellato, M.D., the Charles A. Hubay M.D. Professor of Surgery, founder of the bariatric program at University Hospitals of Cleveland; Cathleen Crouse, R.N., the coordinator of the bariatric program at University Hospitals; Peter T. Hallowell, M.D., who performed part of the operations; and Dean Akira Nakamoto, M.D., the director of body imaging at University Hospitals.

Source: Press release of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).


Last Editorial Review: 12/2/2003



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