Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass procedures (GBP) are any of a group of similar operations that first divides the stomach into a small upper pouch and a much larger lower “remnant” pouch and then re-arranges the small intestine to allow both pouches to stay connected to it. Surgeons have developed several different ways to reconnect the intestine, thus leading to several different GBP names. Any GBP leads to a marked reduction in the functional volume of the stomach, accompanied by an altered physiological and physical response to food.

The operation is prescribed to treat morbid obesity, defined as a Body mass index greater than 40, and also to treat type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and other co-morbid conditions. Bariatric surgery is the term encompassing all of the surgical treatments for morbid obesity, not just gastric bypasses, which make up only one class of such operations. The resulting weight loss, typically dramatic, markedly reduces comorbidities. The long-term mortality rate of gastric bypass patients has been shown to be reduced by up to 40%.As with all surgery, complications occur. One study, from the years 2005-2006, showed that surgery-related death occurred for 0.5% of patients, from complications within six months of surgery.

The gastric bypass, in its various forms, accounts for a large majority of the bariatric surgical procedures performed. It is estimated that 200,000 such operations were performed in the United States in 2008. An increasing number of these operations are now performed by limited access techniques, termed “laparoscopy”.

Laparoscopic surgery is performed using several small incisions, or ports, one of which conveys a surgical telescope connected to a video camera, and others permit access of specialized operating instruments. The surgeon actually views his operation on a video screen. The method is also called limited access surgery, reflecting both the limitation on handling and feeling tissues, and also the limited resolution and two-dimensionality of the video image. With experience, a skilled laparoscopic surgeon can perform most procedures as expeditiously as with an open incision—with the option of using an incision should the need arise.

The Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass, Roux-en-Y, first performed in 1993, is regarded as one of the most difficult procedures to perform by limited access techniques, but use of this method has greatly popularized the operation, with benefits which include shortened hospital stay, reduced discomfort, shorter recovery time, less scarring, and minimal risk of incisional hernia.