Complications and Costs for Obesity Surgery Declining
Thanks to several factors, complications arising from bariatric surgery and the resulting costs have declined over the last several years, a new study shows.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has discovered that on average, complications relating to bariatric surgery declined 21% between 2002 and 2006. Much of this improvement is attributable to an increased use of vertical-banded gastroplasty and lap-band surgery over gastric bypass surgery, more use of laparoscopy, and increased technical experience among surgeons performing said procedures. As an additional benefit, hospital payments for bariatric surgery patients also dropped, partially due to the reduced need for hospital re-admissions from complications.
“Recent Improvements in Bariatric Surgery Outcomes,” published in the May 2009 Medical Care, detailed that the complication rate among bariatric surgical patients dropped approximately 24%, mainly occurring due to a significant decrease of 58% in the rate of post-surgical infections. Additionally, complications like staple leakage and abdominal hernias, among others, decreased by between 29 and 50%.
The research found that even with an increase in the number of older and sicker patients having bariatric surgery, the complication rate still declined. The Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Carolyn M. Clancy, MD, said that people “considering an elective procedure need unbiased, science-based evidence of its benefits and risks . . . all surgeries involve risks, but as newer technologies emerge and surgeons and hospitals gain experience, as this study shows, risks can decrease.”