Public Release: 

Laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery effectively improves obesity-related health problems

American College of Gastroenterology

ORLANDO (November 1, 2004)--Surgeons at Western Pennsylvania Hospital report that laparoscopic surgery for obesity, known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, effectively improves unhealthy conditions associated with severe clinical obesity (or "morbid" obesity). The results, which were presented at the 69th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, reveal that after this surgery many patients are able to stop medications for a range of serious obesity-related health problems, including diabetes, sleep apnea, asthma, and high blood pressure.

"Comorbities associated with morbid obesity decrease life expectancy and impair quality of life," notes Pavlos Papasavas, M.D., one of the researchers at Western Pennsylvania Hospital. He and his colleagues followed 455 patients and collected data on medications used to treat comorbid diseases.

At follow-up, almost half (48.7 percent) of patients who took medications for high blood pressure preoperatively were now off medications. In addition, 92 percent of postoperative gastric bypass patients who took both oral medications for diabetes and insulin were off these medications at the time of their last follow-up. Another area of improvement was degenerative joint disease, with 32.5 percent of patients taking medications for this condition preoperatively, of whom 60 percent were off medications at follow-up. (Please see the attached abstract for a table summarizing all the findings.)

For the patients in this study the mean Body Mass Index (BMI) before surgery was 47. Patients with a BMI of 40 or more are candidates for bariatric surgery for obesity according to the 1991 NIH Consensus Panel Recommendations. The NIH Consensus Panel reduced the threshold BMI for bariatric surgery to 35 to 40 for patients with high-risk comorbid conditions such as life-threatening cardiopulmonary problems, diabetes or severe sleep apnea. A BMI of 40 is roughly equivalent to 100 pounds overweight for an average adult male.

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About Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery

Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is one of the most common surgical procedures for obesity. Known as a malabsorptive operation, this procedure restricts both food intake and the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs. In this surgery a small stomach pouch is created to restrict food intake. Then a Y-shaped section of the small intestine is attached to the pouch to allow food to bypass the lower stomach, the duodenum (the first segment of the small intestine), and the first portion of the jejunum (the second segment of the small intestine). This bypass reduces the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs.

The ACG was formed in 1932 to advance the scientific study and medical treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The College promotes the highest standards in medical education and is guided by its commitment to meeting the needs of clinical gastroenterology practitioners. Consumers can get more information on GI diseases through the following ACG-sponsored programs:

  • 1-800-978-7666 (free brochures on common GI disorders, including ulcer, colon cancer, gallstones, and liver disease)
  • 1-866-IBS-RELIEF and www.ibsrelief.org (free educational materials)
  • 1-800-HRT-BURN (free brochure and video on heartburn and GERD)
  • www.acg.gi.org (ACG's Web site)

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