Follow me on

Long-Term Health Outcomes After Bariatric Surgery

Another series of articles in the 2018 JAMA special issue on obesity, deals with the impact of bariatric surgery on health outcomes and overall mortality. The first article by Sayeed Ikramuddin and colleagues is an observational follow-up of a randomized clinical trial at 4 sites in the United States and Taiwan, involving 120 participants who had a hemoglobin A1c(HbA1c) level of 8.0% or higher and a BMI between 30.0 and 39.9. The study compared intensive lifestyle and medical management intervention based on the Diabetes Prevention Program and LookAHEAD trials for 2 years, with and without (60 participants each) Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery followed by observation to year 5. At 5 years, 13 participants (23%) in the gastric bypass group and 2 (4%) in the lifestyle-intensive medical management group had achieved the composite triple end point (HbA1c less than 7.0%, LDL cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL, and systolic blood pressure less than 130 mm Hg). In the fifth year, 31 patients (55%) in the gastric bypass group vs 8 (14%) in the lifestyle–medical management group achieved an HbA1c level of less than 7.0%. As is to be expected, surgical treatment resulted in more serious adverse events (66 vs 38 events), most frequently involving gastrointestinal and surgical complications such as strictures, small bowel obstructions, and leaks. A second study by Gunn Signe Jakobsen and colleagues from Norway, reports on changes in obesity related comorbidities in patients with severe obesity (BMI ≥40 or ≥35 and at least 1 comorbidity) undergoing bariatric surgery (n=932, 92 gastric bypass) or specialized medical (“lifestyle”) treatment (n=956) at a tertiary care outpatient center. Based on drugs dispensed according to the Norwegian Prescription Database and data from the Norwegian Patient Registry and a local laboratory database, surgically treated patients had a greater likelihood of remission (RR, 2.1) and lesser likelihood for new onset of hypertension (RR, 0.4), a greater likelihood of diabetes remission (RR, 3.9) but also a greater risk of new-onset depression (RR, 1.5) and treatment with opioids (RR, 1.3. Again, as expected, surgical patients had a greater risk for undergoing at least 1 additional gastrointestinal surgical procedure (RR, 2.0). From these findings the researchers conclude that adding gastric bypass to lifestyle and intensive medical management alone in patients with severe obesity and type 2 diabetes, there remained a significantly better composite triple end point in the surgical group at 5 years. The third study by Orna Reges and colleagues from… Read More »

Full Post

Gastric Bypass Vs. Sleeve Gastrectomy For Severe Obesity

In the 2018 special issue of JAMA on obesity, two research articles compare long-term outcomes (5 years) after laparoscopic roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYG) to sleeve gastrectomy (SG). In the first study by Ralph Peterli and colleagues from Switzerland, the authors report on the findings from the  Swiss Multicenter Bypass or Sleeve Study (SM-BOSS), a 2-group randomized trial, that included 217 patients at 4 bariatric centres, who were enrolled and randomly assigned to SG or RYG. At 5 years, weight loss was slightly greater in the RYG group but this difference was not statistically significantly. Gastric reflux improved more after RYG and was more likely to worsen with SG. Reoperation rates were marginally higher in the RYG group (seven reoperations after sleeve gastrectomy were for severe GERD, and 17 reoperations after bypass were for internal hernias) . In the second study Paulina Salminen and colleagues from Finland report on the  Sleeve vs Bypass (SLEEVEPASS) multicenter, multisurgeon, open-label, randomized clinical equivalence trial which randomly assigned patients with severe obesity to SG (n=121) or RYG (n=119)  with a 5-year follow-up period. At 5 years, weight loss, remission of diabetes, as well as improvements in dyslipidemia and hypertension were slightly higher in the RYG group than in the SG group. Overall, there was no difference in improvement in quality of life or in morbidity rates between the two groups. There was no treatment-related mortality in either group. In an accompanying editorial, David Arterburn and Arniban Gupta from the University of Washington, Seattle, note that, “Collectively, these studies provide reassuring data to suggest that the rapid switch from Roux-en-Y gastric bypass to sleeve gastrectomy in the last decade has not been a therapeutic misadventure similar to the rise and fall of the adjustable gastric band,5 which has been all but abandoned.” They also point to five important learnings from these studies: Patients should be informed that deciding between sleeve gastrectomy and bypass is complex and requires patients to simultaneously consider information about many factors, including weight loss, control of different comorbidities, and short- and long-term risks. Weight loss between the two procedures are more or less on par. GS may be a reasonable choice even for patients with diabetes. Patients with GERD deserve careful consideration, because their outcomes are differentially affected by sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass. Given the relative parity between these procedures in weight loss and comorbidity resolution, shared decision making conversations should prioritize… Read More »

Full Post

The OPQRST Of Body Weight

The assessment of weight history is no doubt a key feature of obesity assessment. Not only can weight history and trajectories provide important insights into obesity related risk but, perhaps more importantly, provide key information on precipitating factors and drivers of excessive weight gain. Now, in a short article published in MedEdPublish, Robert Kushner discusses how the well-known OPQRST mnemonic for assessing a “chief complaint”  can be applied to assess body weight. In short, OPQRST is a mnemonic for Onset, Precipitating, Quality of Life, Remedy, Setting, and Temporal pattern. Applied to obesity, Kushner provides the following sample questions for each item: Onset: “When did you first begin to gain weight?” “What did you weight in high school, college, early 20s, 30s, 40s?” “What was your heaviest weight?” Precipitating: “What life events led to your weight gain, e.g., college, long commute, marriage, divorce, financial loss?” “How much weight did you gain with pregnancy?” “How much weight did you gain when you stopped smoking?” “How much weight did you gain when you started insulin?” Quality of life: “At what weight did you feel your best?” “What is hard to do at your current weight?” Remedy: “What have you done or tried in the past to control your weight?” “What is the most successful approach you tried to lose weight?” “What do you attribute the weight loss to?” “What caused you to gain your weight back?” Setting: “What was going on in your life when you last felt in control of your weight?” “What was going on when you gained your weight?” “What role has stress played in your weight gain?” “How important is social support or having a buddy to help you?” Temporal pattern: “What is the pattern of your weight gain?” “Did you gradually gain your weight over time, or is it more cyclic (yo-yo)?” “Are there large swings in your weight, and if so, what is the weight change?” As Kushner notes, “These features provide a contextual understanding of how and when patients gained weight, what efforts were employed to take control, and the impact of body weight on their health. Furthermore, by using a narrative or autobiographical approach to obtaining the weight history, patients are able to express, in their own words, a life course perspective of the underlying burden, frustration, struggle, stigma or shame associated with trying to manage body weight. Listening should be unconditional and nonjudgmental. By letting patients tell their story, the… Read More »

Full Post

Diagnosis and Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults

In follow up to yesterday’s guest post by Christy Turer on her challenges in getting timely diagnostics and treatment for a patient with severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it appears timely that this week’s issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) features a full-length update on the diagnosis and treatment of OSA in adults. As  Cheryl Laratta form the University of British Columbia and colleagues point out, OSA) is likely underdiagnosed in Canada with lack of appropriate treatment putting many at risk of poor quality of life, comorbidity, motor vehicle crashes and increased health care utilization. Clinical features include daytime sleepiness, unrefreshing sleep or fatigue, frequent nocturnal waking due to choking or gasping, nocturia, morning headaches, poor concentration, irritability and erectile dysfunction. Bed partners may report snoring or witnessed apneas. Atypical symptoms, more frequently reported by women, include insomnia, impaired memory, mood disturbance, reflux and nocturnal enuresis. However, as the authors point out, the correlation of symptoms with disease severity is poor, which is why it is important for physicians to be alert to milder symptoms and screen individuals who present with known risk factors like overweight/obesity, increased neck circumference and nasopharangeal crowding. Importantly, while the presence of these features increases pre-test probability, neither history nor physical examination are enough to rule out OSA. A number of questionnaires (e.g. Berlin Questionnaire, STOP-Bang, etc.) are available to assist in screening patients. As for diagnosis, “The gold standard for diagnosis of OSA is attended polysomnography (level I study), which involves collection of seven or more data channels, including electroencephalogram and electrooculogram for sleep staging, electromyogram, electrocardiogram and respiratory channels.” Less reliably, “Level III sleep studies record a minimum of three channels of data while the patient sleeps at home. Level III studies usually monitor airflow, snoring, respiratory excursion, body position, heart rate and oxygen saturation, but some validated devices use surrogate measurements for these variables, such as tonometry or actigraphy, and the technology is constantly evolving.51 Level III studies do not record sleep; therefore, severity of OSA is estimated using the respiratory event index, which is the number of desaturation events per hour of total recording time.” Treatment options include nightly use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device or the use of oral devices (for less severe cases). The latter should be custom fitted by a dentist with extensive experience or additional training in dental sleep medicine. Oddly enough, there is no mention of obesity… Read More »

Full Post

Urgent Need For Low-Cost In-Home Diagnostics For Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Today’s guest post comes from Christy Turer, MD,  Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, and Clinical Sciences at University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA.   This week, I saw a 50 year-old female patient with obesity (BMI 44) who desperately needs screening and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Over the past four years, her heart function (ejection fraction) has declined from >60% to now ~20% with significant pulmonary hypertension, almost certainly related to undiagnosed, untreated OSA based on multiple nightly witnessed apneas. Although she now sleeps with oxygen, this does nothing for her hypopnea-related, sympathetic overdrive-mediated, cardiac dysfunction. Without CPAP treatment, her life expectancy is two years or less. Unfortunately, within the public health system for which I work (county system that offers free or discounted healthcare to poor residents in a metropolitan city, USA), the average wait time for a sleep study is 1-2 years. To be fair, this patient has had a previous attempt at a sleep study in a sleep lab a couple of years ago. At that time, however, the study was inconclusive, because she could not fall asleep in the sleep lab’s unfamiliar environment. It is frustrating not being able to help my patients with suspected sleep apnea, especially, when I know that help could be available. It is high time we had a technological disruption that enables cheap, reliable, in-home OSA assessment for patients. Christy Turer, MD Dallas, TX Dr Turer is a standing member of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Pediatric Advisory Committee, a consultant to the FDA’s Endocrinologic/Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee, and Past-Chair of the Obesity Society’s Clinical Management of Obesity Section. She has authored numerous scientific articles and lectured widely on primary-care evaluation and management of overweight/obesity and related metabolic comorbidities across the lifespan. Her comments do not reflect the views of UTSW, FDA, or any of her funding sources. 

Full Post