Complications from Weight-loss Surgery Increase with Age

Complications from Weight-loss Surgery Increase with Age
Published Online: Saturday, July 1, 2006

Older patients who underwent bariatric procedures showed a greater incidence of complications, as well as patients who had opted for the "duodenal switch" procedure, according to the results of a new study. Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University collected data from 452 bariatric-procedure patients; 372 were women, and the average age was 44 years. Patients underwent either gastric bypass surgery (sectioning off a portion of the stomach that connects to the small intestine) or biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (removing part of the stomach and attaching the duodenum to the lower part of the small intestine). The study, which followed patients for an average of 419 days, reviewed patient age, body mass index (BMI), gender, surgeon, other illnesses, procedure type, and whether surgery was open or laparoscopic. Over the course of the study, 13% of the patients had minor complications, 10% had major complications, and 0.9% (4 people) died. Patients aged 60 and older were more likely to have complications, and that likelihood increased as age increased. The researchers also found that the duodenal switch procedure was related to more complications. Other factors—BMI, sex, surgical approach, etc—appeared to have no connection with increased complications. These findings, which appeared in the March 2006 issue of the Archives of Surgery, should give bariatric surgeons cause to advise older patients and those considering the duodenal switch procedure about the heightened risk of complications.

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.

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