A rational approach to cholelithiasis in bariatric surgery: its application to the laparoscopically placed adjustable gastric band

Paul E O'Brien, John B Dixon
Archives of Surgery 2003, 138 (8): 908-12

BACKGROUND: Gallstones are more common in the obese population and may be formed during rapid weight loss. A rational approach to the management of the gallbladder should be incorporated into bariatric surgical practice. It has been recommended that patients undergoing Roux-en-Y gastric bypass have routine cholecystectomy regardless of gallstone status. We analyzed the outcomes of a noninterventionist policy on 1000 patients undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding.

HYPOTHESIS: Patients scheduled for adjustable gastric banding should undergo investigation for and treatment of gallbladder disease regardless of symptoms.

METHODS: Patients were screened preoperatively for symptoms of gallstones. Ultrasound examination was performed only in those with symptoms and, if stones were present, cholecystectomy was performed with gastric banding. The remaining patients were followed up clinically and outcomes were noted.

RESULTS: A total of 1000 patients were followed up for 12 to 96 months, a total of approximately 3500 patient-years. Cholecystectomy was performed in 181 patients before and 10 at gastric banding surgery. Of the 809 patients at risk, 55 (6.8%) presented with symptomatic disease during follow-up and proceeded to undergo elective cholecystectomy without complications from the disease or the treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of cholecystectomy after gastric banding surgery was not different from the expected rate for a nonsurgical obese population. In contrast, after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, a median of 40% of patients form stones in the postoperative period, and prophylactic cholecystectomy may be justified. Our data indicate that a noninterventionist approach to the gallbladder is appropriate for patients undergoing adjustable gastric banding surgery.

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