The Risks of Weight Loss Surgery With Kidney Disease

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Kidney disease patients who had weight loss surgery had a significant number of adverse side effects

November 7, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

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(dailyRx News) Weight loss surgery can be an effective treatment for some patients who are obese. However, patients with kidney disease may want to consider the risks before deciding on that treatment.

In a recent study, one-fifth of obese patients with chronic kidney disease experienced a serious side effect from weight loss surgery, and two of the patients died from complications.

The researchers suggested that weight loss surgery may be riskier for obese patients with kidney disease.

"Ask your surgeon about the risks of weight loss surgery."

Helen MacLaughlin of King's College London led this study to see how weight loss surgery affected obese people with kidney disease.

Untreated obesity can add to serious health issues like diabetes, heart disease and osteoarthritis. Weight loss surgery is currently one of the most effective treatments for obesity.

Weight loss surgery either reduces the stomach size, so patients feel fuller after eating less food, or separates the stomach into two segments and connects the small intestine to both, a procedure called gastric bypass surgery.

This study looked at weight loss surgery in chronic kidney disease patients. Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidneys have trouble filtering out waste.

The researchers looked at patient information from obese patients with kidney disease who had undergone weight loss surgery at three London hospitals from 2007 to 2012.

They looked at medical records for information about the patients, the type of surgery, how long the patients stayed in the hospital, how much weight they lost and any side effects or death after the surgery.

The researchers found records for 33 male patients and 41 female patients with an average age of 52 years. The patients' average body mass index (BMI) was 44.5; normal BMIs range from 18.5 to 24.9.

A total of 38 percent of the participants underwent gastric bypass surgery, 57 percent had their stomach size reduced using a sleeve, and 5 percent had a band wrapped around their stomach.

On average, the patients lost 61 percent of their excess body mass, and the average BMI 12 months after surgery was 33.2.

The researchers found that there were 16 reported adverse events from the 74 surgeries. Two participants died due to surgical complications.

A total of 4 percent of the patients had acute kidney injury from the surgery. A leak, increased acidity or potassium in the blood, chest infection, iron or B12 vitamin deficiency and graft failure each happened in 3 percent of the participants. Only 1 percent of the participants had a heart attack.

During the study period, four additional patients died, two of whom had cancer.

The researchers concluded that while weight loss surgery can be effective for obese patients who want to lose weight, people with chronic kidney disease were more likely to die or experience a negative side effect.

The authors of this study emphasized the importance of identifying and addressing risk factors for obese people who are considering weight loss surgery.

The study was presented at the American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week on November 7. The authors did not disclose funding sources or any conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
November 7, 2013
Last Updated:
November 7, 2013