Metabolic surgery to treat type 2 diabetes: clinical outcomes and mechanisms of action

Annu Rev Med. 2010:61:393-411. doi: 10.1146/


Several gastrointestinal (GI) operations that were designed to promote weight loss can powerfully ameliorate type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Although T2DM is traditionally viewed as a chronic, relentless disease in which delay of end-organ complications is the major treatment goal, GI surgery offers a novel endpoint: complete disease remission. Ample data confirm the excellent safety and efficacy of conventional bariatric operations-especially Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding-to treat T2DM in severely obese patients. Use of experimental procedures as well as conventional bariatric operations is increasingly being explored in less obese diabetic patients, with generally favorable results, although further assessment of risk:benefit profiles is needed. Mounting evidence indicates that certain operations involving intestinal diversions improve glucose homeostasis through varied mechanisms beyond reduced food intake and body weight, for example by modulating gut hormones. Research to elucidate such mechanisms should facilitate the design of novel pharmacotherapeutics and dedicated antidiabetes GI manipulations. Here we review evidence regarding the use and study of GI surgery to treat T2DM, focusing on available published reports as well as results from the Diabetes Surgery Summit (DSS) in Rome and the World Congress on Interventional Therapies for T2DM in New York City.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biliopancreatic Diversion
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / surgery*
  • Gastric Bypass
  • Gastroplasty
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications
  • Obesity, Morbid / metabolism
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss