From the Journals

Low risk of bariatric surgery complications in IBD

Key clinical point: Watch for perioperative small-bowel obstruction in IBD patients undergoing bariatric surgery.

Major finding: IBD patients had a higher risk of perioperative small bowel obstruction (adjusted odds ratio, 4.0; 95% confidence interval, 2.2-7.4) and a 1-day increase in hospital stay (P = .01), compared with controls.

Data source: Retrospective cohort study of Nationwide Inpatient Sample data including 790 patients with underlying IBD.

Disclosures: The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest.



Bariatric surgery is safe and feasible in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with a low risk of postoperative complications vs. controls, according to results of a recent cohort study.

Besides a significantly higher risk of perioperative small-bowel obstruction and a 1-day increase in hospital stay, outcomes were comparable between patients with IBD and controls (Obes Surg. 2017 Oct 10. doi: 10.1007/s11695-017-2955-4).

Limitations of the retrospective study, according to the authors, included a potential underestimation of short-term postoperative complications, since the data set used in the study was limited to in-hospital stays and would not include events occurring after discharge.

Nevertheless, “our data show that it is reasonable to carefully proceed with bariatric interventions in obese IBD patients, especially those who are at higher risk of cardiovascular mortality and drastic need for weight reduction, to accrue benefits of weight loss,” wrote Fateh Bazerbachi, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. and his coauthors.

Bariatric surgery is the “most effective solution” for obesity, and “appropriate candidates should not be deprived of this important, potentially life-saving procedure, if the intervention is deemed acceptably safe,” Dr. Bazerbachi and his colleagues noted.

Their cohort study included data for 314,864 adult patients in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample who underwent bariatric surgery between 2011 and 2013. Of that group, 790 patients had underlying IBD (459 Crohn’s disease, 331 ulcerative colitis). Remaining patients made up the comparator group.

The primary outcomes evaluated in the study included risks of systemic and technical complications. Risk of perioperative small-bowel obstruction was significantly higher in the IBD group (adjusted odds ratio, 4.0; 95% confidence interval, 2.2-7.4). However, the rates of other complications were similar between the two groups, data show.

Secondary outcomes in the study included length of hospital stay and mortality. Mean length of hospital stay was 3.4 days for IBD patients, vs. 2.5 days for the comparison group (P = .01), according to the report. Mortality was 0.25% for controls, while no deaths were reported in the IBD group.

In the future, bariatric surgeons may face increasing demand to treat IBD patients, given the increasing prevalence of obesity in the IBD patient population, Dr. Bazerbachi and his colleagues said.

Some surgeons may believe that bariatric intervention is more challenging in IBD patients, in part because of the underlying inflammatory state that might interfere with healing of wounds and recovery of bowel motility, they said. Bariatric surgery, however, can reduce body mass index, which in turn might make future IBD surgeries less challenging.

Another potential advantage is reduction in cardiovascular risk, which is elevated in IBD patients both due to obesity as well as the IBD condition, they added.

“Further studies are certainly needed to examine long-term outcomes of bariatric surgery on IBD and to determine whether cardiovascular mortality is reduced from these interventions in this susceptible cohort of obese IBD patients,” Dr. Bazerbachi and his colleagues wrote.

The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest.

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