Context: The increasing prevalence and associated sociodemographic disparities of morbid obesity are serious public health concerns. Bariatric surgical procedures provide greater and more durable weight reduction than behavioral and pharmacological interventions for morbid obesity.
Objective: To examine trends for elective bariatric surgical procedures, patient characteristics, and in-hospital complications from 1998 to 2003 in the United States.
Design, setting, and patients: The Nationwide Inpatient Sample was used to identify bariatric surgery admissions from 1998-2002 (with preliminary data for 12 states from 2003) using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, codes for foregut surgery with a confirmatory diagnosis of obesity or by diagnosis related group code for obesity surgery. Annual estimates and trends were determined for procedures, patient characteristics, and adjusted complication rates.
Main outcome measures: Trends in bariatric surgical procedures, patient characteristics, and complications.
Results: The estimated number of bariatric surgical procedures increased from 13,365 in 1998 to 72,177 in 2002 (P<.001). Based on preliminary state-level data (1998-2003), the number of bariatric surgical procedures is projected to be 102 794 in 2003. Gastric bypass procedures accounted for more than 80% of all bariatric surgical procedures. From 1998 to 2002, there were upward trends in the proportion of females (81% to 84%; P = .003), privately insured patients (75% to 83%; P = .001), patients from ZIP code areas with highest annual household income (32% to 60%, P<.001), and patients aged 50 to 64 years (15% to 24%; P<.001). Length of stay decreased from 4.5 days in 1998 to 3.3 days in 2002 (P<.001). The adjusted in-hospital mortality rate ranged from 0.1% to 0.2%. The rates of unexpected reoperations for surgical complications ranged from 6% to 9% and pulmonary complications ranged from 4% to 7%. Rates of other in-hospital complications were low.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that use of bariatric surgical procedures increased substantially from 1998 to 2003, while rates of in-hospital complications were stable and length of stay decreased. However, disparities in the use of these procedures, with disproportionate and increasing use among women, those with private insurance, and those in wealthier ZIP code areas should be explored further.