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British study confirms safety of bariatric surgery

News | Adelaide Bariatric Centre

10 Jul 2013 10:26 AM

Bariatric Surgeon Wearing Scrubs

Bariatric surgery techniques are safer than ever before, according to recent studies from the UK.

A new study released this month showed the in-hospital mortality rate for bariatric surgery in the UK is just 0.07%.

The study followed the surgeries of nearly 4,500 patients across Britain over the past year, and was commissioned by the UK’s National Bariatric Surgical Registry (NBSR).

It found that safety for bariatric surgery may have improved since 2009: between 2009 and 2013, the overall mortality rate for bariatric patients was 0.11%.

British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society council member and surgeon Peter Small said bariatric surgery as a speciality was still rapidly developing.

“The number of people receiving bariatric surgery has increased dramatically in England - and the developed world generally - in the past decade,” he said. 

“Collecting information about patient treatment and care using the NBSR will help us further develop the service and improve best practice for our patients.”

The study showed that the average hospital stay was 2.5 days, with nearly three quarters of patients being female. The average body mass index of patients was found to be 50.6 –double the recommended BMI level for a healthy body. This increased BMI led to the average patient having 3-4 obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnoea.

2011 study backs up new data

This report is just the second official report from the NBSR, with the first released in April 2011. The initial report showed that on average, patients lost 60% of their excess weight. Among patients with type 2 diabetes, half of them were cured of the condition within 12 months of the surgery, and 86% were cured within two years. Among the 1,400 patients studied, only 2.6% had any surgical complications.

Despite the positive statistics, only about 0.3% of British residents eligible for bariatric surgery have been treated, according to the 2011 study’s author, Richard Welbourn.

“This data shows that bariatric surgery is safe, greatly improves functional impairment and co-existing disease,” Mr Welbourn said.

“The report clearly demonstrates that bariatric surgery is an obvious strategy to reduce premature mortality from the major causes of death.”

There are currently no similar studies in Australia, although Monash University is collecting data from 95% of the 16,000 bariatric clinics in Australia and New Zealand. The database began early last year, and will function as a registry to highlight ongoing trends or flaws in the industry.