Incidence of anastomotic strictures after gastric bypass: a prospective consecutive routine endoscopic study 1 month and 17 months after surgery in 441 patients with morbid obesity

Attila Csendes, Ana Maria Burgos, Patricio Burdiles
Obesity Surgery 2009, 19 (3): 269-73

BACKGROUND: Anastomotic stricture after gastric bypass for morbid obesity has been reported as the most frequent complication after surgery. The objective of this study is to determine in a prospective and consecutive endoscopic evaluation the true incidence of this complication early and late after gastric bypass.

METHODS: A total of 441 morbidly obese patients were included in this prospective study. They were 358 women and 97 men, with a mean age of 41 years and a mean body mass index of 43 kg/m2. In all an endoscopic evaluation was performed 1 month after surgery, which was repeated in 315 patients (71.6%) 17 months after surgery, independent of the presence or not of symptoms. Anastomotic diameter was measured and strictures were classified as: (a) mild, with a diameter of 7 to 9 mm, (b) moderate with a diameter of 5 to 6 mm, and (c) difficult or critical with a diameter equal or less to 4 mm. Two methods of dilatation were employed: the endoscope itself or Savary-Gilliard dilators. Patients were submitted to laparotomic resectional gastric bypass in whom a circular stapler 25 was employed for gastrojejunal anastomosis or to laparoscopic gastric bypass, in whom hand-sewn one layer continuous suture was employed.

RESULTS: One month after surgery, 23% of patients after open gastric bypass employing circular stapler 25 presented anastomotic stricture, being 22% of them critical. After laparoscopic gastric bypass employing hand-sewn anastomosis, 36% of the patients presented strictures, being critical 10% (p>0.17). Patients with mild or moderate strictures needed one or two dilatations. Patients with critical strictures needed three to five dilatations. There were no complications associated to dilatation. Moderate and severe strictures were symptomatic; however 29% of patients with mild strictures were asymptomatic. Endoscopy was repeated in 71% of the whole group 17 months after surgery, demonstrating normal anastomosis in all.

CONCLUSIONS: Stricture at the gastrojejunal anastomosis after gastric bypass is the commonest complication early after surgery. Near 60% present a mild stricture (with a diameter between 7 and 9 mm), being 28% asymptomatic. This complication is easily treated by endoscopic procedure if it is diagnosed early (3 to 4 weeks) after surgery. Routine endoscopy 1 month after surgery is the only objective scientific way to determine the real true incidence of this complication.

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