Sudden death after open gastric bypass surgery

Wölnerhanssen, Bettina ; Langer, Igor ; Eriksson, Urs ; Schneider, Markus

In: Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery, 2009, vol. 394, no. 3, p. 573-577

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    Purpose: Gastric bypass surgery has become a relatively low-risk bariatric surgical intervention in a high-risk patient population (Nguyen et al., Arch Surg, 141:445-449, 2006; Buchwald et al. JAMA, 13:1724-1737, 2004). Surgical interventions in patients suffering from morbid obesity are typically associated with excess morbidity (Parikh et al., Am Surg, 73:959-962, 2007). Though overall mortality after bariatric surgery is <1% is low (Mason et al., Obes Surg, 17:9-14, 2007), some surgical complications such as anastomotic leaks, staple line disruption and bowel obstruction may still impact on postoperative outcome (Parikh et al., Am Surg, 73:959-962, 2007; Mason et al., Obes Surg, 17:9-14, 2007). Early symptoms are often missed, as clinical presentation may be discreet, inexistent or falsely attributed to obesity. Methods: This case report refers to a patient in whom discomfort and agitation associated with a rise in temperature heralded a fulminant septic shock syndrome precipitating his death. Literature on early complications and management after gastric bypass is reviewed. Conclusion: A high level of suspicion should be present in the case of an unexpected postoperative deterioration of the patient's general condition. Time to treat may be very short (Mason et al., Obes Surg, 17:9-14, 2007). Computed tomography is mandatory to rule out pulmonary embolism and bypass obstruction