According to researchers at the University of Texas (UT)–Southwestern Medical Center, in Dallas, bariatric weight-loss surgeries should be limited to people younger than age 65. The study shows that older patients experience less weight loss and far more complications than younger patients.

“Adverse outcomes increased with age, particularly after age 60,” says Edward Livingston, MD, chair of gastrointestinal/endocrine surgery at UT Southwestern and the study’s lead author. “Beyond 65 years of age, the adverse event rate exceeded 20% and mortality was 3.23%.”

The study reviewed 25,428 bariatric procedures involving Medicare beneficiaries using the National Inpatient Survey database, which contains discharge information for 20% of all hospitalizations in the United States, a large enough population to overcome limitations of previous studies.

According to Livingston, patients with electrolyte disorders and congestive heart failure were at greater risk of death from bariatric surgery or related complications. Other conditions that increased risk for adverse events and required longer hospital stays included chronic pulmonary disease, diabetes, and depression.

Common complications include gastrointestinal, respirator, and cardiac problems. Gastrointestinal problems were most common, occurring in about 30% of older patients who had complications. Respiratory-tract problems accounted for 20% of the complications and cardiac complications about 15%.

[www.newswise.com, November 28, 2006]