Bariartric surgeries performed laparoscopically increased dramatically between 2003 and 2008 according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons in its August 2011 edition. The study also revealed that in-hospital mortality rates for bariatric patients were reduced by more than 50% and that the number of bariatric surgeons in the United States almost doubled during that period. These statistics certainly suggest that the morbidly obese may become more willing to undergo weight loss surgery as a treatment for obesity-related health conditions, like diabetes and heart disease.
The study was led by Dr. Ninh T. Nguyen, chief surgeon for the Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery at the University of California Irvine Healthcare. The study examined data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample that showed that laparoscopic bariatric surgeries increased from about 20% in 2003 to over 90% in 2008. In-hospital mortality rates for these weight loss procedures fell from 0.21% in 2003 to 0.10% in 2008. The study’s authors further pointed out that the number of bariatric surgeons, as measured by membership in the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, grew 95% from 931 in 2003 to 1,819 in 2008.
While the number of laparoscopic bariatric procedures grew significantly, the overall total of all bariatric surgeries actually peaked at 135,985 in 2004 and hit a plateau by 2008 at 124,838 operations. The study authors speculated that this lack of growth was attributed to weaker demand and accessibility issues likely stemming from difficulties with getting health insurance to cover the procedures.
The demographic breakdown of the study group was a median patient age of between 42 and 45 years old, 71.3% to 78.2% Caucasian and between79.2% to 82.6% female. Data for the study group was gathered from approximately 20% of the community-based hospitals in the United States, which did include university-related medical centers.
Source: American College of Surgeons