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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Bariatric Surgeries: On the Rise?

Published December 4, 2008 5:45 PM by Karin Lillis
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to watch a laparoscopic gastric bypass. Surgeons operated on the woman to treat complications related to morbid obesity -- especially her diabetes. Within days of the lifesaving surgery, the RN circulator pointed out, the woman was likely to no longer need her diabetes medication.

Overall, bariatric procedures have significantly increased among patients in the U.S., from 13,386 surgeries in 1998 to 121,055 in 2004, according to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

My editor was curious about the woman's age -- she was 70. That's not an age where someone usually undergoes bariatric surgery, he pointed out. He was right.

In 2004, the elderly (65 and older) and adolescent populations (ages 12-17) accounted for just 1.5 percent of procedures, according the 2007 AHRQ report.

The majority of procedures (85 percent) still occurred on patients ages 18-54, but the fastest growth happened among the "near elderly." The baby boomer set -- those 55-64 years of age -- underwent nearly 16,000 bariatric procedures in 2004, up from 772 six years earlier.      

I'm interested to hear from nurses who work with bariatric patients. Have you seen significant increases at your facilities? How have the surgeries impacted the lives of your patients?

posted by Karin Lillis
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