Background: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGBP)-essentially a restrictive bariatric procedure-is currently considered the gold standard for the surgical treatment of morbid obesity. Open surgery in obese patients is associated with a high risk of cardiopulmonary complications, wound infection, and late incisional hernia. Laparoscopic surgery has been shown to reduce perioperative morbidity and to improve postoperative recovery for various procedures. Herein we present our results with laparoscopic RYGBP after an initial 2-year experience.
Methods: A prospective database was created in our department beginning without the first laparoscopic bariatric procedure. To provide a complete follow-up of 6 months, the results of all patients operated on between June 1999 and August 2001 were reviewed. Early surgical results, weight loss, correction of comorbidities, and improvement of quality of life were evaluated.
Results: A total of 107 patients were included. There were 82 women and 25 men, with a mean age of 39.7 years (range, 19-58). RYGBP was a primary procedure in 80 cases (49 morbidly obese and 31 superobese patients) and a reoperation after failure or complication of another bariatric operation in 27 cases. Mean duration of surgery was 168 min for morbidly obese patients, 196 min for surperobese patients, and 205 min for reoperated patients (p <0.01). Conversion to open surgery was necessary in two cases. A total of 22 patients (20.5%) developed complication. Nine of them (8.4%) required reoperation for leak (five cases, or 4.6%), bowel occlusion (three cases, or 2.8%), or subphrenic abscess (one case, or 0.9%). mortality was 0.9%. Major morbidity decreased over time (first two-thirds, 12.5%, last third, 2.7%). major morbidity decreased over time (first two-thirds, 12.5%; last third, 2.7%). Excess weight loss of -50% was achieved in >80% of the patients, corresponding to a loss of 15 body mass index (BMI) units in morbidly obese patients and 20 BMI units in superobese patients. In the vast majority of patients, comorbidities improved or disappeared over time and quality of life improved.
Conclusions: Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is feasible, but it is a very complex operation. Indeed, it is associated with a long and steep learning curve, as reflected in the high number of major complications among our first 70 patients. The learning curve probably includes between 100 and 150 patients. With increasing experience, the morbidity rate becomes more acceptable and comparable to that of open RYGBP. The results in terms of weight loss and correction of comorbidities are similar to those obtained after open surgery, at least in the short term. However, only surgeons with extensive experience in advanced laparoscopic as well as bariatric surgery should attempt this procedure.