Gastric Bypass Surgery: Complications and Side Effects
Clearly, when this surgery is a success it can be a boon, significantly improving one's health, self image and longevity. However, the operation is not with out its potential risks and side effects. Studies reveal that in the 2 months following gastric bypass surgery 5 percent of patients will have significant problems and 10 percent will have minor problems requiring medical attention. Of these patients, 10% will suffer hernias and 10-5% will suffer from psychological challenges related to the surgery. 2-3 % will suffer from anastamotic (staple line rupture), gastrostomy problem leaks, or incision infection, while 1% will suffer from arrythmia (cardiac irregularity), blood clots to lungs (pulmonary embolism), pneumonia, or thrombophlebitis. And unless the gall bladder is removed during the bypass procedure, approximately 30% of patients will develop gall stones after surgery. In rare cases the patient will suffer a heart attack (myocardial infarction), a stroke or kidney failure. In the period following the first two months though, chances of serious complications reduce; 1% will suffer from anastamotic ulcers, anastamotic stricture, small bowel obstruction and in rare cases vitamin deficiencies.
The mortality rate from Gastric Bypass is commonly quoted at 1/200 though is believed by some legal professionals and medical professionals to be higher. The risks associated with gastric bypass are primarily contingent on three factors: the patient's relative obesity, age, and health. As one might suspect, the healthier, less obese and younger patients, have the best chances of avoiding complications.
The most common causes of death are infection secondary to staple line or suture line leaks, respiratory problems and pulmonary embolism. In the event of a complication, determining whether it was unpreventable or the result of medical negligence will be of critical importance.
The most common life threatening, post surgery complication is the leaking of gastrointestinal fluids from sutured or stapled surgical connection lines. If these leaks are not addressed immediately they may cause serious infection, peritonitis, abscess, and even death. Generally, any pain resulting from a gastric bypass operation should be significantly reduced, if not completely absent, the second day after the operation. If leakage does occur; increased pain, back pain, left shoulder pain, increased anxiety, restricted breathing, excessive urinations, are all tell tale symptoms.
The failure of a physician to respond immediately when a patient complains of symptoms resulting from leakage, or other complications, is a prime example of medical malpractice. In most cases the leak can be detected by a simple x ray. Yet in some cases it can not. In these cases, a surgeon's failure to perform immediate exploratory gastric surgery when symptoms indicate the probability of a leak, regardless of x-ray results, is another example of possible malpractice. It is also the surgeon's responsibility, not only to adequately monitor the patient's convalescence, but to properly educate the patient and his or her family on post surgery recovery so that should complications arise, the response will be swift.
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