Purpose: Obesity has become a health-care crisis in the United States. Adolescent obesity is now one of the most common childhood disorders, with 4.7 million American adolescents having a body mass index (BMI) greater than the 95th percentile. Most patients do not respond to diet modification or exercise programs and attention is now turning toward surgery as a source of weight loss in adolescents. Few studies have looked at the overall morbidity and mortality of weight loss surgery in this patient population.
Methods: This is a retrospective study of medical charts of 15 bariatric surgical procedures performed on 14 adolescents without known genetic syndromes associated with severe childhood obesity from 1971 to 2001 at the University of Minnesota. Procedures performed on these patients included vertical banded gastroplasty (n = 7), Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (n = 5), and jejunoileal bypass (n = 3). Jejunoileal bypass procedures were performed from 1971 to 1977, after which time this procedure was abandoned. Patient age ranged from 13 to 17 years (mean, 15.7 years). Mean follow-up time was 6 years, with 9 patients available for long-term follow-up.
Results: All procedures were performed using an open technique by 1 surgeon. There were no perioperative deaths; complications included 1 case of wound infection, 2 episodes of dumping syndrome that resolved without revision, 1 episode of hypoglycemia, and 1 case of short-term electrolyte imbalance in a patient who underwent jejunoileal bypass. The average BMI dropped from 58.5 +/- 13.7 to 32.1 +/- 9.7 kg/m(2) (P < .01)--a 45% reduction.
Conclusions: Surgery for morbid obesity is safe and results in significant weight loss in adolescents who fail medical therapy.