Introduction and objectives: The frequency of copper deficiency and clinical manifestations following roux-en-y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery is not yet clear. Objectives were to determine the prevalence and incidence of copper deficiency in patients who have undergone RYGB.
Design and methods: We sought to determine the number of RYGB patients undergoing medical and nutritional follow-up visits at the Emory Bariatric Center who experienced copper deficiency and associated hematological and neurological complaints (n=136). Separately, in patients followed longitudinally before and during 6 and 24 months following RYGB surgery, we obtained measures of copper status (n=16). Systemic blood cell counts and measures of copper, zinc and ceruloplasmin were determined using standardized assays in reference laboratories including atomic absorption spectrometry and immunoassays.
Results: Thirteen patients were identified to have copper deficiency suggesting a prevalence of copper deficiency of 9.6%, and the majority of these had concomitant complications including anemia, leukopenia and various neuro-muscular abnormalities. In the longitudinal study, plasma copper concentrations and ceruloplasmin activity decreased over 6 and 24 months following surgery, respectively (P<0.05), but plasma zinc concentrations did not change. A simultaneous decrease in white blood cells was observed (P<0.05). The incidence of copper deficiency in these subjects was determined to be 18.8%.
Conclusions: The prevalence and incidence of copper deficiency following RYGB surgery was determined to be 9.6% and 18.8%, respectively, with many patients experiencing mild-to-moderate symptoms. Given that copper deficiency can lead to serious and irreversible complications if untreated, frequent monitoring of the copper status of RYGB patients is warranted.