Internal hernia formation after laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass for morbid obesity

Jennifer E Filip, Samer G Mattar, Steven P Bowers, C Daniel Smith
American Surgeon 2002, 68 (7): 640-3
There is mounting concern that internal hernia formation after laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (LRYGB) for morbid obesity remains unrecognized until complications develop. In this report we present our experience with this complication. Out of 100 patients who underwent LRYGB we identified five patients who were diagnosed with postoperative internal hernia formation. The medical records and operative details of these patients were reviewed. Of the five patients four were female and the average age was 36 years (range 30-43). All Roux limbs were placed in a retrocolic position. The average time interval to presentation was 104 days (range 4-305). All patients had abdominal pain and four patients experienced vomiting. One patient had obstipation. Only one patient had fever (38.1 degrees C) and the highest white cell count was 14,500. The average loss in body-mass index was 5.21 kg/m2 (range 2.5-14.8). Plain abdominal films revealed dilated bowel in the upper abdomen in three patients. Contrast bowel series was diagnostic in only one patient. One patient had a CT scan, which was diagnostic of small bowel obstruction. All patients underwent operative reduction of the internal hernia; two of these were completed laparoscopically. All hernias had occurred at the mesocolic window and were caused by sutures that had pulled through tissue at the dorsal and lateral aspect of the initial repair. One patient had a nonviable segment of small bowel. There were no deaths. Patients who undergo LRYGB are at a 5 per cent risk for developing small bowel obstruction secondary to internal hernia formation at the mesocolic window. Clinical evaluation and traditional study modalities may not be effective diagnostic tools. A high index of suspicion and low threshold to explore these patients may be the best way to avoid serious sequelae. Modification of operative techniques may reduce the occurrence of internal hernia formation.

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