If validated by additional prospective studies, the new scoring system not only would give surgeons concrete information on which to base treatment options, but would help patients make informed decisions about potential risks, its developers said. Additionally, the system, if widely adopted, could provide a standardized way to compare outcomes among centers that perform the surgery.
Gastric bypass surgery is used to help people who are morbidly obese lose weight. Although the surgery has several variants, the basic procedure involves stapling off a large portion of the stomach and reattaching the intestine to the smaller remaining portion. Because of their decreased stomach capacity, patients are unable to eat as much food and they feel sated much faster.
Gastric bypass surgery is generally safe, according to the Duke researchers. But as with any type of surgery, there is a risk of adverse side effects or even death. The key, they said, is determining which patients are at the lowest risk.
"Currently, there is no clinically useful system to help determine which patients would be at highest risk of dying after gastric bypass surgery," said Eric DeMaria, M.D., director of bariatric surgery at Duke, who reported on the new scoring system June 29, 2006, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery in San Francisco.
"We developed a scoring system that is based on five easy-to-identify patient characteristics that can help us decide whether or not a specific patient is a good candidate for surgery and what the probable risks would be," DeMaria said. "When talking to patients, we can cite national averages on risks, but that is not very helpful when I have a specific patient sitti
Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center