NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Performing gastric bypass surgery to reduce the weight of morbidly obese patients using a laparoscopic method, rather than the conventional more invasive “open” abdominal method, reduces postoperative complications, the need for a second operation, and shortens hospital stays, new research shows. Nevertheless, laparoscopic gastric bypass is more expensive.
Obesity surgery, also called bariatric surgery, is growing in popularity and more and more of these operations are being done using a laparoscope, note co-authors Dr. Wendy E. Weller, from the University at Albany in New York, and Dr. Carl Rosati, from Albany Medical Center.
This is done by placing one or more small incisions in the abdomen, through which a hollow tube is inserted. This allows very small instruments to be inserted to perform the gastric bypass. The entire procedure is visualized on a screen. In contrast, the more invasive “open” procedure involves making an incision to open the abdomen so the procedure can be performed.
The current study, reported in the Annals of Surgery, involved an analysis of data from 19,156 subjects who underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2005 and were logged in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, the largest all-payer inpatient database in the U.S.
Slightly less than 75 percent of the patients underwent laparoscopic gastric bypass, the report indicates.
Laparoscopic gastric bypass was linked to a reduced risk of several complications. With open surgery, the risk of pulmonary complications was increased by 92 percent, for cardiovascular complications it was 54 percent, for sepsis, a serious system-wide infection, the risk was more than doubled and the risk of anastomotic leak, leakage from the operative site, 32 percent higher.
On average, performing laparoscopic rather than open gastric bypass reduced the hospital stay by about 1 day.
The average total charges were similar for the two procedures, but median total charges were significantly higher with laparoscopic gastric bypass: $30,033 vs. $28,107 respectively.
After accounting for various patient and hospital factors, laparoscopic surgical patients were less likely than their open-surgery counterparts to require reoperation, the investigators found.
While these findings suggest some advantages with the laparoscopic operation, “most reassuring for the bariatric surgery community is that the hospital outcomes were excellent overall in both the laparoscopic and open procedures,” Dr. Michael G. Sarr, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, comments in a related editorial.