Background: Gastric band erosion is a well-reported complication after laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB). The published literature is limited and inconclusive with regard to its management. The authors therefore reviewed all band erosions detected during a 5-year period in a high-volume bariatric practice. Because a significant proportion of the band insertions (65%) were undertaken by an operator beyond his learning curve, the authors hoped to gain a mature, comprehensive understanding of this significant complication.
Methods: The authors retrospectively reviewed the operative log of the operating theaters in their obesity surgery unit to find all the operations performed on LAGB patients for erosion from January 2003 to December 2007. The clinical notes and electronic records for each patient were reviewed. These data were cross-referenced against the authors' obesity surgery database, and denominator data such as the total number operations performed and demographics were found. Finally, postoperative outcomes were collated from the outpatient follow-up data and telephonic interviews, and the results were analyzed.
Results: From January 2003 to December 2007, a single surgeon performed 865 LAGBs in the authors' unit. The authors identified 18 operations performed for LAGB erosions. The 18 patients (one referred from elsewhere, 14 women) formed the final study cohort (median preoperative body mass index [BMI], 46 kg/m(2)). Of the 17 erosions, 15 occurred relatively early in the series. The patients with the 213 Swedish adjustable gastric bands experienced 12 erosions (incidence, 5.6%) compared with 6 erosions with the 652 LAP-BANDs (incidence, 0.9%). The median time to presentation was 7 months (range, 1-60 months). However, 55% of the erosions (n = 10) occurred within the first year, and only 10% occurred after the second year. The most common presenting symptom was pain followed by weight regain. None of the patients experienced peritonitis. After surgical management of the erosion, three patients had a second LAGB and at this writing are well. Of the remaining patients, 11 are well, but 6 of these patients have returned to their previous weight (4 patients were lost to follow-up evaluation).
Conclusions: The overall incidence of LAGB erosions in our series was 1.96%. This incidence fell with increasing experience to 0.5% after the initial 300 bands were excluded from the analysis (3 band erosions in the last 565 band insertions). However, further increases in incidence are likely with a longer follow-up period. The most common presentation was abdominal pain followed by weight regain and port-site sepsis. In the authors' hands, laparoscopic omental plugging and band removal through a separate anterior gastrotomy appear to be effective methods for dealing with band erosions. Band erosion is a significant source of morbidity, with at least one-third of the erosion patients in our series not achieving their final goal of weight loss despite appropriate treatment. This study highlights the need for a future prospective randomized study to clarify the apparent strong influence of band design and construction on the etiopathogenesis of band erosion.