Complications from Weight-loss Surgery Increase with Age
Older patients who underwent bariatricprocedures showed a greater incidence ofcomplications, as well as patients whohad opted for the "duodenal switch" procedure,according to the results of a newstudy. Researchers at the Oregon Healthand Science University collected datafrom 452 bariatric-procedure patients;372 were women, and the average agewas 44 years. Patients underwent eithergastric bypass surgery (sectioning off aportion of the stomach that connects tothe small intestine) or biliopancreaticdiversion with duodenal switch (removingpart of the stomach and attaching theduodenum to the lower part of the smallintestine). The study, which followedpatients for an average of 419 days,reviewed patient age, body mass index(BMI), gender, surgeon, other illnesses,procedure type, and whether surgerywas open or laparoscopic. Over thecourse of the study, 13% of the patientshad minor complications, 10% had majorcomplications, and 0.9% (4 people) died.Patients aged 60 and older were morelikely to have complications, and thatlikelihood increased as age increased.The researchers also found that the duodenalswitch procedure was related tomore complications. Other factors—BMI,sex, surgical approach, etc—appeared tohave no connection with increased complications.These findings, which appearedin the March 2006 issue of theArchives of Surgery, should give bariatricsurgeons cause to advise older patientsand those considering the duodenalswitch procedure about the heightenedrisk of complications.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.