In the United States, most adults are overweight or obese, and obesity is soon to become the leading cause of death, according to background information in the article. Bariatric surgical procedures (surgery on the stomach and/or intestines designed to promote weight loss) are the only interventions that consistently help patients achieve significant and sustained weight loss and improvements with co-existing medical conditions. As a result, there has been dramatic growth in bariatric surgery over the last decade. Balanced against these beneficial effects, however, are the risks of perioperative death and short-term adverse outcomes, which have been poorly defined in the community at large.
David R. Flum, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues conducted a study to determine the risk of all-cause early postsurgical death among Medicare beneficiaries undergoing open bariatric surgery. The study examined early (30-day, 90-day, and 1-year) death figures for all U.S. fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries who underwent bariatric procedures from 1997-2002.
A total of 16,155 patients underwent bariatric surgical procedures (average age, 48 years; 75.8 percent women, with 90.6 percent younger than 65 years). A total of 61.2 percent of cases were claims for the bariatric surgical procedure Roux-en-y gastroenterostomy (RYGB) and 19.9 percent were for RYGB with small intestine reconstruction to limit absorption. There was more than a 3-fold increase in the number of procedures performed from 1997 (n=1,464) to 2002 (n=4,814).
The researchers found that among all patients, the rates of 30-day, 90-day, and 1-
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