Background: Adolescent obesity continues to present one of the most difficult and important challenges for both the pediatric and adult medical communities. Evidence is mounting that bariatric surgery is the only reliable method for substantial and sustainable weight loss; however, the debate continues with regard to the optimal surgical procedure for both adolescents and adults. Although most US adult bariatric surgeons prefer the gastric bypass, our institution has demonstrated equivalent weight loss with significantly less morbidity using laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) in both adults and adolescents. This analysis is an update of our results in our first 73 patients, including resolution of comorbid conditions and compliance data.
Methods: All adolescents aged 13 to 17 years who have undergone LAGB at our institution have been entered into our prospectively collected database since September 2001 and were reviewed. Data collected preoperatively included age, sex, race, body mass index (BMI), and presence of comorbid conditions. Postoperatively recorded data included length of stay, operative morbidity, need for reoperation, percentage of excess weight loss (%EWL), and BMI at 3-month intervals; status of any comorbid conditions, and number of postoperative visits and band adjustments.
Results: Seventy-three adolescents aged 13 to 17 years (mean, 15.8 +/- 1.2 years) have undergone LAGB at our institution since September, 2001. Of these, 54 were female and 19 were male. The mean preoperative weight was 298 lb, with a BMI of 48 kg/m(2). The %EWL at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years postoperatively was 35% +/- 16%, 57% +/- 23%, and 61% +/- 27%, respectively. One patient experienced a gastric perforation after a reoperation for band replacement because of a slip. One additional patient requested band removal because of restriction intolerance after a slip. A total of 6 patients developed band slippage, and 3 patients developed symptomatic hiatal hernias. Nutritional complications included asymptomatic iron deficiency in 13 patients, asymptomatic vitamin D deficiency in 4 patients, and mild subjective hair loss in 14 patients. In 21 patients who entered our Food and Drug Administration-approved study and had reached 1-year follow-up, there were 51 identified comorbid conditions. Of these, 35 (68.5%) were completely resolved, 9 (17.5%) were improved, 5 (10%) were unchanged, and 2 (4%) were aggravated after 1 year. Of 50 initial patients who underwent surgery more than 1 year ago, 2 patients lived a large distance from our institution, where band maintenance is being performed locally, and thus, the patients were excluded from the analysis. Two patients were lost to follow-up in the first year, and 3 patients were lost to follow-up in the second year, for an overall compliance rate of at least 89.5%. The mean number of office visits was 10 +/- 3 in the first year, and the mean number of adjustments was 6 +/- 2.
Conclusions: Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding continues to represent an attractive treatment strategy for morbidly obese pediatric patients with a %EWL of more than 55% at both 1- and 2-year follow-up, with minimal morbidity compared with the gastric bypass. Furthermore, the weight loss associated with LAGB provides excellent resolution or improvement of comorbid conditions. Although there is a necessary commitment by the patient that involves frequent office visits and band adjustments, adolescents are entirely capable of this commitment, and noncompliance should not be a reason to dissuade adolescents from having LAGB. It remains, in our opinion, the optimal surgical option for pediatric patients with morbid obesity.