Sunday, January 04, 2004

Inexperienced Surgeons pose Gastric Bypass Risk

January 5, 2004 - A growing collection of research suggests that this increasingly popular gastric bypass surgery operation commonly used for weight loss can have a hidden risk: inexperienced surgeons. "Gastric bypass is the hottest thing in surgery right now, unfortunately some of that is economically driven," said Dr. Steven Rothenberg, a surgeon at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver. "The thing that made it take off is that now it can be done laparoscopically." Surgeons promote laparoscopic surgery to patients as safer than traditional more invasive surgery. And it is -- in the hands of experienced doctors.

But the gastric bypass is so difficult, according to physicians who have tracked the results of their cases, that patients of surgeons who have done fewer than 70 to 100 operations have complications more often -- and a greater chance of death from those complications. Some fear that surgeons are rushing into the field for economic reasons without adequate training. Some hospitals allow surgeons to operate after only one weekend seminar.

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