Conference Coverage

Study: Surgeon post-SG reflux rates vary widely



BALTIMORE – An analysis of sleeve gastrectomy (SG) operations reported to a statewide registry over a 5-year period has found that the proportion of patients with worsening gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms varied widely among surgeons despite similarities in surgeon training, experience, skills, technique, and complication rates, according to findings presented at the annual meeting of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons.

“We found that about a third of patients undergoing sleeve gastrectomy within this data registry developed worsening symptoms after sleeve gastrectomy, and the severity of these symptoms actually varied considerably, from 1 to 13.8 increase in their [GERD–Health Related Quality of Life Questionnaire (HRQL)] score,” said Oliver Varban, MD, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “Among the surgeons themselves, the rates of severe symptoms varied despite the surgeon’s experience and rate of hiatal hernia repair being similar between the groups.”

This study involved 7,358 patients in the Michigan Bariatric Surgery Collaborative (MBSC) registry who had SG from 2013 to 2017 and 52 surgeons who performed 25 or more SG cases per year. The patients completed the GERD-HRQL survey at baseline and 1 year after SG. The two scores were compared and patients were divided into terciles – mild, moderate, and severe – for worsening of symptoms, then matched with the surgeons who performed the operation. In all, 31.2% of patients (n = 2,294) reported worsening symptoms a year after SG, divided into the following terciles: mild with a 1.4-point increase in GERD-HRQL score (11.7%, n = 866); moderate, a 4.2-point increase (9.7%, n = 716); and severe, 13.8-point increase (9.7%, n = 712).

Among surgeons, the highest rate of patients with severe worsening of GERD was 44.7%, the lowest rate, 18.7%. So the researchers compared characteristics among the surgeons with the highest and lowest rates. “We found that they’re quite similar, actually, in terms of years of bariatric fellowship training, annual sleeve gastrectomy volume, total bariatric annual volume, as well as operative time,” Dr. Varban said. “Interestingly, the rate of concurrent hiatal hernia repair within these two groups is similar as well, which is about one-third for each group” (34.3% for the highest-rate group and 27% for the lowest-rate surgeons).

Likewise, 30-day risk adjusted complication rates were similar between both groups, 3.7% for the high group and 4.3% for the low group.

“Total–body weight loss or excess–body weight loss was actually fairly similar clinically between the two groups, but there was a statistical significance with more weight loss in the GERD patients who had higher severe worsening of symptoms,” Dr. Varban noted.

Surgeons with the highest rates of severe reflux symptoms in their patients tended to operate on more patients with diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, whereas the surgeons with the lowest rate of severe symptoms had a higher proportion of patients who were male, white, and had hyperlipidemia and sleep apnea.

Dr. Varban has no financial relationships to disclose. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan provided salary support through the MBSC.

SOURCE: Varban O et al. SAGES 2019; Session SS29, Abstract S139.

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