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Complications occur after all types of surgical procedures. Some are due to the nature of the patient's condition or illness, some due to an error of judgement or technique, and some are linked to randomness or chance. Each patient is built differently and each reacts differently to a given set of circumstances. When a medical device such as a Lap-Band is introduced, there is an additional set of factors. How does the patient's body react to the device, and how well does the patient work with the device to use it properly to prevent problems?

Medicine is as much art as science. The surgeon must use his or her judgment to try to do the best procedure or treatment for a given patient, never knowing all the facts. Likewise the patient must do his or her own best to work with the treatment. In the case of the Lap-Band, the patient must allow the band implantation to heal completely, and then she or he must eat properly. The vast majority of patients do very well after surgery. However, even when both doctor and patient do their best and use generally accepted protocol, complications or death may occur.

Related Medical Journals

A 10-year experience with laparoscopic gastric banding for morbid obesity: high long-term complication and failure rates.

Suter M, Calmes JM, Paroz A, Giusti V.

Department of Surgery, Hopital du Chablais, Aigle-Monthey, Switzerland.

BACKGROUND: Since its introduction about 10 years ago, and because of its encouraging early results regarding weight loss and morbidity, laparoscopic gastric banding (LGB) has been considered by many as the treatment of choice for morbid obesity. Few long-term studies have been published. We present our results after up to 8 years (mean 74 months) of follow-up. METHODS: Prospective data of patients who had LGB have been collected since 1995, with exclusion of the first 30 patients (learning curve). Major late complications are defined as those requiring band removal (major reoperation), with or without conversion to another procedure. Failure is defined as an excess weight loss (EWL) of <25%, or major reoperation. RESULTS: Between June 1997 and June 2003, LGB was performed in 317 patients, 43 men and 274 women. Mean age was 38 years (19-69), mean weight was 119 kg (79-179), and mean BMI was 43.5 kg/m(2) (34-78). 97.8% of the patients were available for follow-up after 3 years, 88.2% after 5 years, and 81.5% after 7 years. Overall, 105 (33.1%) of the patients developed late complications, including band erosion in 9.5%, pouch dilatation/slippage in 6.3%, and catheter- or port-related problems in 7.6%. Major reoperation was required in 21.7% of the patients. The mean EWL at 5 years was 58.5% in patients with the band still in place. The failure rate increased from 13.2% after 18 months to 23.8% at 3, 31.5% at 5, and 36.9% at 7 years. CONCLUSIONS: LGB appeared promising during the first few years after its introduction, but results worsen over time, despite improvements in the operative technique and material. Only about 60% of the patients without major complication maintain an acceptable EWL in the long term. Each year adds 3-4% to the major complication rate, which contributes to the total failure rate. With a nearly 40% 5-year failure rate, and a 43% 7-year success rate (EWL >50%), LGB should no longer be considered as the procedure of choice for obesity. Until reliable selection criteria for patients at low risk for long-term complications are developed, other longer lasting procedures should be used.

Obes Surg. 2006 Jul;16(7):829-35.

Management of failed adjustable gastric banding.

Biertho L, Steffen R, Branson R, Potoczna N, Ricklin T, Piec G, Horber FF.
Department of Surgery and Internal Medicine, Hirslanden Clinics, Bern and Zurich, Switzerland.

BACKGROUND: About 100,000 adjustable gastric band placements have been performed worldwide, but more than 10% of patients have needed reoperation for insufficient weight loss or device-related complications. This study investigates the complications following gastric banding, and the outcome using a structured management strategy. METHODS: In the period April 1996 to January 2002, 824 severely obese patients (body mass index 43 +/- 1 kg/m 2 [mean +/- standard error under the mean], age 43 +/- 1 years; 77% women) underwent gastric banding in a single institution and were followed prospectively. Complications, insufficient weight loss, and subsequent management were analyzed. RESULTS: By the fifth treatment year, excess weight loss (EWL) was 54.8 +/- 1.7%; 72.8% of patients lost weight continuously or attained EWL of at least 50%. Insufficient weight loss occurred in 143 patients, and band-related complications occurred in 131 patients, with a mean annual rate of 5.0%. Major reoperation was necessary in 121 patients, and the annual reoperation rate was 4.7%. Following major reoperation, band- and bypass-related complication rates ranged from 6.3% to 11.7% per year. Three deaths occurred, 1 after reoperation and 2 due to preexisting cardiovascular disease. CONCLUSIONS: Applying a structured reoperation algorithm, 5% annual failure after banding was corrected in most patients, and 72.8% of patients attained sufficient weight loss. Reoperation-related mortality was low (.8%), and its annual morbidity was acceptable (4.6%).

Surgery. 2005 Jan;137(1):33-41

Outcome after laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding - 8 years experience.

Weiner R, Blanco-Engert R, Weiner S, Matkowitz R, Schaefer L, Pomhoff I.

Krankhenhaus Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery, Section of Bariatric Surgery, Germany. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

BACKGROUND: Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) has been our choice operation for morbid obesity since 1994. Despite a long list of publications about the LAGB during recent years, the evidence with regard to long-term weight loss after LAGB has been rather sparse. The outcome of the first 100 patients and the total number of 984 LAGB procedures were evaluated. METHODS: 984 consecutive patients (82.5% female) underwent LAGB. Initial body weight was 132.2 +/- 23.9 SD kg and body mass index (BMI) was 46.8 +/- 7.2 kg/m(2). Mean age was 37.9 (18-65). Retrogastric placement was performed in 577 patients up to June 1998. Thereafter, the pars flaccida to perigastric (two-step technique) was used in the following 407 patients. RESULTS: Mortality and conversion rates were 0. Follow-up of the first 100 patients has been 97% and ranges in the following years between 95% and 100% (mean 97.2%). Median follow-up of the first 100 patients who were available for follow-up was 98.9 months (8.24 years). Median follow-up of all patients was 55.5 months (range 99-1). Early complications were 1 gastric perforation after previous hiatal surgery and 1 gastric slippage (band was removed). All complications were seen during the first 100 procedures. Late complications of the first 100 cases included 17 slippages requiring reinterventions during the following years; total rate of slippage decreased later to 3.7%. Mean excess weight loss was 59.3% after 8 years, if patients with band loss are excluded. BMI dropped from 46.8 to 32.3 kg/m(2). 5 patients of the first 100 LAGB had the band removed, followed by weight gain; 3 of the 5 patients underwent laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (LRYGBP) with successful weight loss after the redo-surgery. 14 patients were switched to a "banded" LRYGBP and 2 patients to a LRYGBP during 2001-2002. The quality of life indices were still improved in 82% of the first 100 patients. The percentages of good and excellent results were at the highest level at 2 years after LAGB (92%). CONCLUSIONS: LAGB is safe, with a lower complication rate than other bariatric operations. Reoperations can be performed laparoscopically with low morbidity and short hospitalizations. The LAGB seems to be the basic bariatric procedure, which can be switched laparoscopically to combined bariatric procedures if treatment fails. After the learning curve of the surgeon, results are markedly improved. On the basis of 8 years long-term follow-up, it is an effective procedure.

Obes Surg. 2003 Dec;13(6):965.


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