Potential Complications of Gastric Bypass Surgery

Steven Schwartzapfel Aug 5, 2015
Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass surgery entered the modern medical landscape in the early 1990s. Since then, it has become increasingly popular for treating obesity that is considered debilitating and potentially life-threatening. An estimated 200,000 bypass operations are performed in the United States every year, despite being considered one of the most difficult laparoscopic surgeries to successfully and safely execute. Medical practitioners, insurance companies, and patients appreciate the added benefits of gastric bypass, such as shorter recovery times, less discomfort, and minimal scarring. However, as with any surgery, there is a risk of complications. These risks can be exacerbated by a surgeon’s lack of experience with the procedure.

What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?

With bypass surgery, the surgeon divides the stomach into two parts, one larger and one that holds approximately one cup of food. The two sections are then either sewn or stapled. The surgeon reconnects the new, smaller section to the intestines, reconstructing the gastrointestinal tract. This is done by laparoscopic procedure or as an open surgery.

Complications from Laparoscopic Bypass Surgery

A laparoscopic surgeon uses multiple small incisions for a surgical telescope that allows him or her to see the organs and tissues on a monitor. Recent research focused on complications from 6,200 bypass surgery patients, both laparoscopic and open surgeries. Results concluded that the laparoscopic procedures had a higher rate of the following complications:

  • Bowel Obstruction – Research published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons reports that the lack of adhesions formed from laparoscopic surgery leaves enough elasticity and room for abnormal intestinal entanglement. Other causes of bowel obstruction include large pieces of food, scar tissue, and constipation. Physicians can misdiagnose a post-surgical obstruction as a normal twist or kink in the intestinal tract, ignoring necessary treatment.
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhaging – Gastrointestinal bleeding incidents occur in up to 4% of bypass surgeries, and can be fatal if not recognized and treated quickly and correctly. Symptoms include exhaustion due to anemia, pale coloring, and varying degrees of bright red or darker, black stool.
  • Stomal Stenosis – This occurs when the new pathway between the stomach and lower intestine becomes abnormally narrow. Stomal stenosis generally occurs weeks after bypass surgery, as the tissues have had time to heal. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, trouble swallowing, and food intolerance.

Complications from Open Bypass Surgery

The same study revealed that open bypass procedures, during which the surgical team cuts the stomach open, had a higher risk of the following complications:

  • Incisional Hernia – This occurs when the intestine protrudes through a weakened area of the peritoneal cavity. Approximately 20% of bypass patients suffer post-operative incisional hernias.
  • Wound infection – 1% to 5% of bypass patients suffer from wound infections. Types of infection include bacteria from the bowels, sepsis, and pneumonia.

Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. – Serving Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties

Gastric bypass surgery is a complicated procedure that requires extensive communication between all medical professionals involved with a patient. If you have suffered from a post-surgical complication and believe it may be due to medical negligence, we at Schwartzapfel Lawyers can help you determine the best legal course of action. Our team is dedicated to examining every detail of a case so that we can obtain the money and benefits you may be entitled to. Contact us for a free consultation today.

WordPress Image Lightbox