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Gastric bypass and stomach-stapling patients should recognize risk of nerve injury post-surgery

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic researchers have found a significant number of patients who undergo "stomach stapling" or gastric bypass surgery for weight reduction develop peripheral neuropathy, damage to any of the body's nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. The development of nerve damage is associated with malnutrition, and so the researchers contend may be largely preventable with proper nutritional care.

"Surgeons who do weight-reduction surgery and the general public and should be aware that nerve damage is a frequent consequence of the surgery," says P. James (Jim) Dyck, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and lead investigator in this study, which will be presented at the American Medical Association Science Reporters Conference on Oct. 14 and published in the Oct. 26 issue of the journal Neurology. "I'm not saying that people shouldn't have this surgery, but I am saying that there are real potential complications and that good follow-up care is necessary."

The Mayo Clinic investigators found that 16 percent of weight-reduction surgery patients they studied developed a peripheral neuropathy: nerve problems ranging from minor tingling or numbness in the feet to severe pain and weakness confining patients to wheelchairs.

"It's surprising how many of these patients developed peripheral neuropathy," says Dr. Dyck. "Sixteen percent is a large number. But patients who were part of nutritional programs before and after their weight loss surgery generally didn't develop these neuropathies, so we believe the nerve damage is largely preventable."

Dr. Dyck and colleagues identified risk factors in weight-reduction surgery patients who later developed nerve problems: 1) they lost weight at a much faster pace, 2) they received less nutritional supplementation, 3) they experienced prolonged nausea and vomiting, and 4) they failed to attend nutritional clinics.

"The evidence is very strong that nerve complications are associ
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Contact: Lisa Lucier
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
14-Oct-2004


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