Rhabdomyolysis in bariatric surgery: a systematic review

Obes Surg. 2013 Aug;23(8):1333-40. doi: 10.1007/s11695-013-0913-3.


Background: Rhabdomyolysis (RML) is a rare complication of bariatric surgery. A systematic review was performed to identify risk factors and patient outcomes in morbidly obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery who develop RML.

Methods: A comprehensive search was performed between January 1990 and March 2012 using relevant MeSH terms. Studies were chosen based on predefined inclusion criteria. RML was defined as a creatine kinase of more than 1,000 IU/L. The parameters assessed included patient characteristics of the RML population, type of bariatric surgery performed, operating time, complications, presentation and diagnosis of RML.

Results: Twenty-two studies were analysed which included 11 case reports, two case series, six prospective and three retrospective comparative studies. Overall 145 patients with RML were reported following bariatric surgery. Acute renal failure was found in 20 patients (14 %) and was significantly more likely to occur in patients with postoperative muscle pain (p < 0.05). The mortality rate after renal failure was 25 % (n = 5). In the comparative studies, 87 RML patients were compared with 325 non-RML patients. The RML patients were more likely to be male, had a greater mean body mass index (BMI) (52 vs 48 kg/m(2), p < 0.01) and underwent a longer operation (255 vs 207 min, p < 0.01) compared to non-RML patients.

Conclusions: Risk factors of developing RML following bariatric surgery include male gender, elevated BMI and prolonged operating time. Patients with a biochemical diagnosis of RML and postoperative myalgia after bariatric surgery are at increased risk of developing acute renal failure and mortality. These patients must be identified and treated promptly.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology
  • Acute Kidney Injury / prevention & control*
  • Adult
  • Bariatric Surgery / adverse effects*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Creatine Kinase / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myalgia / blood*
  • Myalgia / etiology
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Operative Time
  • Patient Selection
  • Postoperative Period
  • Rhabdomyolysis* / blood
  • Rhabdomyolysis* / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Creatine Kinase