Studies point to safety of bariatric surgery

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Clinicians counseling patients who are considering bariatric surgery may be able to quell some of their concerns thanks to the results of several recent analyses.

The largest study focused on data from what researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., call the largest repository of bariatric surgery patients ever recorded. A total of 78 deaths occurred among 57,918 patients, putting the mortality rate below 1% (0.135%). The complication rate was about 10%. The findings of the analysis were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, in Grapevine, Tex.

At the same meeting, surgeons from Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas reported that after undergoing laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery, 100 morbidly obese men and women aged 65 years and older had low complication rates and short hospital stays comparable to those of younger surgical patients.

Finally, after reviewing roughly 4,600 bariatric surgery cases, the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery Consortium concluded that the overall risk of death and other adverse outcomes after bariatric surgery was low but varied considerably according to patient characteristics (N Engl J Med. 2009; 361:445-454).
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