© Borgis - Postępy Nauk Medycznych 7/2009, s. 545-550
*Mariusz Wyleżoł1, Krzysztof Paśnik2
Revisional bariatric surgery in patients who underwent surgical treatment for morbid obesity
Chirurgia rewizyjna u chorych poddanych leczeniu operacyjnemu otyłości olbrzymiej
1Department of Surgery, Military Institute of Aviation Medicine, Warsaw, Poland
Head of Department: Mariusz Wyleżoł, MD, PhD
2Department of General, Oncological and Thoracic Surgery, Military Institute of Medicine, Warsaw, Poland
Head of Department: Krzysztof Pa?nik, MD, PhD
Revisional surgery may be necessary in some patients who have undergone bariatric operations. The paper presents causes, manifestations, diagnosis and treatment in patients requiring revisional surgery. The most common indications for reoperation include insufficient weight loss, weight regain, decrease in quality of life, and complications following the primary procedure. Insufficient weight loss and weight regain can be caused by staple line disruption in patients after gastroplasty. Band migration is a serious complication which can be present in any type of primary banded gastroplasty. Restriction can also disappear due to leakage of the system after adjustable gastric banding. Gastric pouch enlargement and dilatation of the stoma are responsible for restriction disappearance after malabsorptive procedures. Vomiting may be life-threatening when stenosis develops following gastroplasty, gastric bypass or due to band slippage. Marginal ulceration is usually treated conservatively nowadays, although it could also be an indication for surgery. Currently no randomized controlled trials exist to help the practising bariatric surgeon choose which revisional procedure to perform. The treatment strategy can be planned and discussed preoperatively with patients although the intraoperative situation frequently influences the type of the procedure performed. Intestinal obstruction and other pathologies and complications can sometimes be indications for emergency surgical procedures.
Chirurgia rewizyjna może okazać się niezbędna u części chorych poddanych uprzednio operacjom z powodu otyłości patologicznej. Omówiono przyczyny, objawy, rozpoznanie i postępowanie u chorych wymagających operacji rewizyjnych. Najczęstszymi wskazaniami do kolejnych operacji są: niewystarczająca redukcja masy ciała lub jej ponowny wzrost, obniżenie jakości życia lub powikłania pierwotnej operacji. Niewystarczająca redukcja masy ciała i ponowny jej wzrost u chorych poddanych uprzednio gastroplastyce mogą być spowodowane rozerwaniem linii podziału żołądka. Migracja opaski jest poważnym powikłaniem, które może wystąpić po każdej operacji z jej zastosowaniem. Ustąpienie restrykcji u chorego z wszczepioną opaską regulowaną może być spowodowane nieszczelnością systemu. Powiększenie górnej części żołądka lub poszerzenia zespolenia żołądkowo-jelitowego jest odpowiedzialne za ustąpienie restrykcji po operacjach wyłączających. Wymioty mogą zagrażać życiu, gdy są wynikiem zwężenia żołądka bądź zsunięcia się opaski. Owrzodzenia brzeżne są obecnie leczone zachowawczo, niemniej mogą być także wskazaniem do leczenia operacyjnego. Niestety brak jest aktualnie wyników badań randomizowanych, które byłyby pomocne w podjęciu decyzji o rodzaju zabiegu rewizyjnego. Strategia postępowania może być zaplanowana i przedyskutowana z chorym w okresie przedoperacyjnym, aczkolwiek sytuacja śródoperacyjna może wpłynąć na rodzaj wykonanej operacji. Niedrożność jelitowa i inne patologie a także powikłania mogą być czasami wskazaniem do niezwłocznie wdrożonego leczenia operacyjnego.
Since the number of morbidly obese people is increasing and the effectiveness of conservative treatment of the disease is not improving, increasing numbers of patients undergo surgery. This refers to many countries worldwide, including Poland (1). Moreover, surgery procedures whose origin is obesity treatment are more and more commonly used in treating diabetes, lipid disorders and others, regardless of the body mass index (BMI) (2, 3). This means that an increasing number of health professionals, both surgeons and other specialists, can in their practice encounter patients who have undergone such surgical treatment. In some cases, an urgent intervention, possibly surgical, may be mandatory to save a patient´s life. In such situations, there will be no time to refer the patient to a centre that specializes in surgical obesity treatment.
This obliges physicians, and particularly surgeons, to become familiar with possible complications encountered in people who have undergone surgical obesity treatment so that they will be able to diagnose a patient or refer a patient to an appropriate centre. What is important is the fact that a patient who has undergone bariatric surgery, like after any other surgery, can develop any morbidity known to medicine, not necessarily related to the surgical treatment. Treating such morbidities may require an awareness of the changes in the anatomy of the gastrointestinal tract which result from the surgical treatment.
There is now scientific evidence which proves unambiguously that conservative treatment is ineffective in morbid obesity. The same evidence indicates that surgical methods exert a beneficial effect on all health aspects associated with this disease. Yet, still there can be opinions heard which question the rationale of surgery in obesity. One of the most important arguments is the opinion that many patients have to be reoperated because they have developed weight regain and other complications that require surgical intervention. In this context, a question arises: ´Does anyone question the use of surgery in other diseases if the necessity of reoperation appears?´ This refers both to systemic diseases, e.g. critical lower extremity ischaemia (CLEI) of atherosclerotic genesis, or local morbidities, e.g. hernia recurrence, to say nothing of neoplastic diseases. Thus, a characteristic feature of surgery is that so far an ideal, complication-free method of surgical obesity treatment is lacking and one will (probably) not appear as long as our treatment does not become causal. A similar situation existed twenty or thirty years ago in the case of peptic ulcer disease.
Revisional surgery for obesity has been known and performed since the first surgery to treat obesity was used. It was limited to intestinal bypass procedures (4, 5). The methods which were suggested then were converting intestinal bypass into gastric bypass or simultaneous reconstruction of the alimentary tract continuity and gastroplasty (6, 7, 8). The following years brought publications describing revisional surgery, during which gastric bypass was converted into vertical banded gastroplasty (9). This type of procedure resulted in body mass loss combined with metabolic disorder avoidance. In patients after primary gastroplasty, the most common cause of reoperation was a breakdown of the staple line, dilation of the canal between the stomach parts created by gastroplasty, or enlargement of the upper part of the stomach. Such phenomena made surgeons convert gastroplasty into gastric bypass (10).
Over the years, the definitions of revisional surgery have changed. In the 1980s, Linner suggested that a reoperation which was to prevent weight regain in patients who had undergone surgical obesity treatment should be named revisional surgery. This term also referred to procedures which counteracted or prevented complications related to obesity treatment surgery (11). At present, medical English differentiates reoperation (surgical interventions associated with complications) and revisions (surgery whose task is further treatment of obesity). Of note, over the years revisional surgery has gained such a status in obesity treatment that multistage surgical obesity treatment is spoken of more and more often. Shortening the duration of each stage contributes to decreasing the number of peri- and post-operative complications. An example of multi-stage treatment is gastric sleeve resection as the first stage followed by gastric bypass or duodenal switch. Gastric banding followed by duodenal switch can be another example of morbid obesity treated in a multi-stage way (12). There may be many more examples of such multi-stage therapy practised today.
Considering the practical aspects of contemporary revisional surgery for obesity treatment, the following three possibilities should be kept in mind (13):
– Insufficient weight loss or weight regain;
– Complications deteriorating the quality of life but not threatening life;
– Life-threatening complications.
When a patient is qualified for reoperation due to insufficient weight loss, it must be remembered that there are still no objective criteria to decide which body mass loss reduction rate should be considered desirable. There have been attempts to design a scoring system, but none has been accepted universally. That is why the weight reduction is based on the patient´s self-assessment and is very subjective. The role of a physician is to make a complex evaluation of a patient´s general condition by assessing: the degree of weight loss, nutritional status (including possible deficiency syndromes), co-morbidities (especially those present before surgery), and quality of life. Thus qualifying a patient for reoperation due to "insufficient reduction of body mass” should be very cautious and include the risk related to undergoing another surgical procedure.
The situation when a patient´s body mass has increased again is somewhat different. In such cases, a patient needs to undergo thorough diagnostic examinations and tests, including imaging diagnostics, so that the cause can be found. Depending on the pathology found, a patient should be treated in a way which can protect him/her against further weight gain, which will soon result in a relapse of the obesity-accompanying diseases diagnosed before the primary surgery. When such patients are qualified for revisional surgery, the referential body mass must be the maximal body mass the patient has ever attained in the lifetime and not the present mass, which may be smaller.
A completely different phenomenon is „bariatric cachexia”. Depending on the type of the primary procedure, bariatric cachexia can have different forms. Caloric deficiency is usually observed in patients treated with restrictive procedures. In patients treated with bypass procedures, different forms of protein deficiency can develop. Deficiency of other nutrients may or may not accompany them. Bariatric cachexia affects rather few patients, but the condition is so life-threatening that it needs health professionals´ urgent intervention. When conservative treatment fails, surgery is necessary.
Indications for reoperation may be shared by all types of surgical obesity treatment. Yet in many cases, a physician´s decisions will depend on the type of primary surgery and pathologies present.
In the case of vertical banded gastroplasty, the most common indication for reoperation is breakdown of the gastric staple line. It manifests with abrupt or gradual restriction release and body mass gain due to formation of an additional canal through which food can penetrate the other part of the stomach. Radiography of the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract is essential for the diagnosis (fig. 1).
Fig. 1. Radiogram of staple line breakdown across stomach.
Endoscopically, it is sometimes possible to confirm the existence of an additional discontinuity in the staple line across the stomach. At present, laparoscopic gastroplasty patients have their stomach dissected in the staple line. This limits the likelihood of formation of another canal but does not exclude it (14).
The restriction can become smaller also because the band has migrated into the gastric lumen. The migration is sometimes preceded by atypical epigastric pains. Radiogram reveals lack of the characteristic narrowing of the canal connecting the upper and lower parts of the stomach. Endoscopy confirms the presence of a foreign body in the gastric lumen (fig. 2).
Fig. 2. Band fragment in gastric lumen.
Band migration can be accompanied by breakdown of the staple line.
When breakdown of the staple line occurs, vertical banded gastroplasty is converted into gastric bypass. Frequently, the procedure has to include resection of a further fragment of the stomach. This is necessary when the band has migrated or a gastro-gastric fistula has formed in the staple line. Severe lesions around such a foreign body as a band require the lower part of the stomach to be resected. Choosing the bypass option results from the experience of many authors, who reported that the reconstruction of the anatomical conditions characteristic of gastroplasty did not result in a permanent outcome (15). Some patients, who tolerated the previous restriction well, and did not complain of epigastric pains, pyrosis or inflammatory states, can undergo reconstructive gastroplasty. When the band migration is not accompanied by other complications, an attempt can be made to remove it endoscopically (16). Such treatment facilitates performing another bariatric operation in the future, but also postpones it and contributes to further and uncontrolled weight gains. When the band cannot be removed endoscopically, it has to be removed surgically. The procedure will typically lead to simultaneously performing another procedure, i.e. gastric bypass.
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