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February 5, 2015

Study: Gastric bypass improves long-term survival

Obese patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery have significantly better long-term survival rates than obese patients who do not receive the surgery, according to a University of Virginia Health System study.

Published online in The American Journal of Surgery , the study compared 401 patients who received gastric bypass at UVA in 2002 and 2003 with 401 obese patients who did not have the surgery but had very similar health conditions.

There was no significant difference in survival rates 30 days or one year after gastric bypass, but substantial improvements in survival were evident beginning five years after surgery.

The five-year mortality rate for the gastric bypass patients was 2.2 percent, compared with 6.7 percent among patients that didn’t have the surgery. The 10-year mortality rate for the gastric bypass patients was 6.5 percent, compared with 12.7 percent for the group that didn’t have the surgery. In total, the mortality rate was 6.5 percent among the surgical patients, compared with 12.7 percent for the non-surgical patients.

There were similar improvements in survival rates among diabetic patients who underwent gastric bypass. For example, the five-year mortality rate was 3.1 percent among diabetic patients who underwent surgery, compared with 12.4 percent among patients who did not receive surgery.

“The results from this study indicate that for patients who are morbidly obese, treatment with gastric bypass provides a survival advantage,” said Peter T. Hallowell, MD , the study’s lead author and director of UVA’s bariatric surgery program .

Along with Hallowell, the paper’s authors include Christopher A. Guidry, MD, MS; Stephen W. Davies, MD, MPH; Robert G. Sawyer, MD; and Bruce Schirmer, MD.

The research was funded through a National Institutes of Health training grant (T32 AI078875).

Video available: Hallowell also discusses his work as a bariatric surgeon at his UVA Health System profile page .

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