NYM Uses New Assessment Tools to Make Bariatric Surgery Even Safer

Jul 30, 2007

NYM Uses New Assessment Tools to Make Bariatric Surgery Even Safer

Date: July 30, 2007

Topic: NYM Uses New Assessment Tools to Make Bariatric Surgery Even Safer

Health Topic: Surgical Weight Reduction

Bariatric surgery - procedures that modify the size and capacity of the stomach in an effort to help obese patients lose weight - is one of the fastest growing segments of elective surgeries in the U.S., climbing from just 10,000 procedures in 1995 to an estimated 200,000+ this year alone.Obesity itself is a primary factor in several of the leading causes of death in this country, including heart disease, stroke and some cancers," said Piotr Gorecki, M.D., chief of laparoscopic surgery and director of the Brooklyn Center for Advanced Laparoscopy at New York Methodist Hospital. The Center was named a "Center of Excellence" by the American Society of Bariatric Surgery for its commitment to quality and its high success rates for patient satisfaction.

By assessing patients using five key indicators, surgeons can identify those most at risk of mortality before performing the procedure. The new risk assessment tool used at NYM focuses on five crucial factors: body mass index (BMI), age, gender, blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots in the lungs. A recent study showed that being male, over the age of 45, having a BMI over 50, high blood pressure and/or a high risk of blood clots in the lungs were all associated with a higher risk of death following bariatric surgery.

"Performing this risk assessment prior to bariatric surgery is less of a tool to discourage the highest-risk patients from having surgery, but instead a barometer to aid the surgical team and the patient in preparing for the surgery," said Dr. Gorecki. Patients identified as falling into four or five of the high-risk categories might require specialized monitoring or care during and after surgery, or surgeons and anesthesiologists might modify their procedures to ameliorate the risks. "The message here is that patients should not wait until their weight and health status are dire before seeking the help of a bariatric surgeon," said Dr. Gorecki.

"Clearly, bariatric surgery is a valuable option for those morbidly obese patients who have had no success with traditional weight loss programs and need medical intervention to help them achieve a healthier weight for longevity and disease prevention," said Dr. Gorecki. In fact, federally-funded health insurance policies Medicare and Medicaid have recognized bariatric surgery as a medically necessary surgical procedure for the morbidly obese. "The long-term health risks associated with obesity itself usually far outweigh the immediate risks involved in bariatric surgery," he said. "However, finding effective ways to reduce even the smallest chance of death is a key focus of every surgery, and the new risk assessment protocol is a powerful way to further that goal."

New York Methodist Hospital offers a Surgical Weight Reduction Information Seminar and Support Group on the fourth Thursday of every month, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Hospital''s Executive Dining Room, 506 Sixth Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn. The first 30 minutes includes a seminar conducted by the surgeon for individuals interested in learning about the surgery, followed by a 90 minute support group meeting open to pre and post-operative patients. For more information, please call 718-780-7797.