Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bariatric Surgery Studies Highlight Dangers

Several new studies in the Oct. 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association point out some of the real risks associated with bariatric surgery.

We wrote about some of the dangers in our first article on the subject a couple years back, in our article: "The Dangers of W-eight L-oss Surgery"

In fact, shortly after writing and posting the above article, a friend of mine had stopped by for coffee and related a story about how one of her own co-workers had died following bariatric surgery.

At the time of writing the article, death rates on the operating table were high -- estimated at 1% ...but I didn't have estimates for death rates FOLLOWING the operation. Now, in the recent studies that have come out, as reported by it appears the estimate is almost 5% for medicare recipient patients ...meaning approx. 5 in every 100 patients will die??

Whew! That's a very high number when talking about fatalaty rates relating to any medical procedure.

Here is a sampling of the list of dangers, as reported in's article -- "Studies Highlight Risks of Bariatric Surgery":

1. One study found rehospitalization rates within a year following the surgery were as high as 19 percent.

2. And another study looked at death rates for Medicare recipients following gastric-bypass surgery, and discovered the mortality rate was almost 5 percent after a year. (see below)

3. A third study examined trends in bariatric surgery, and found the number of bariatric surgeries have increased dramatically, from 13,365 in 1998 to an estimated 102,794 in 2003.

Regarding item 2 above, among those with public insurance and the mortality rates for those on Medicare who undergo bariatric surgery:

"They found the death rate after 30 days was 2 percent for Medicare recipients. After 90 days, that rate was 2.8 percent and after a year, the death rate for bariatric surgery patients receiving Medicare benefits was 4.6 percent. This study also found the death rate was 1.6 times higher when done by a surgeon who performed a low volume of bariatric surgeries."

Considering it's "predicted that more than 100,000 people will soon have the procedure annually" --- it begs the question: Isn't there a better way??