Lap Band Surgery Complication Reports Increasing

Lap-Band gastric banding complications are on the rise. The popular medical device is used as a weight-loss aid and its popularity is increasing; however, a new study warns about possible complications years after the surgery.

As we’ve said, the Lap-Band is a gastric band used in a surgical procedure for weight loss in obese adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30-40, with one or more obesity-related medical conditions (Type II diabetes, hypertension), or in patients with a BMI of 40 or over, with or without an obesity-related medical condition. The surgery, explained USA Today, involves band placement around the stomach’s top area to create a small pouch that receives food, slowly releasing the food into the larger, lower stomach. The band causes patients to feel full after eating a small portion.

Gastric banding is used when non-surgical weight loss methods, such as supervised diet, exercise, and behavior modification, have not resulted in desired weight loss. Patients considering gastric banding must make significant life and eating changes.

USA Today wrote that, according to a new case report, problems developed, in one case, two years after the surgery in one 49-year-old British woman who underwent a Lap-Band procedure. The woman suffered night sweats and a stubborn cough (with green and yellow sputum) that lasted four months; her history indicated she was diagnosed with asthma that did not respond to treatment and that, in September 2008, she was fitted with a laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, said USA Today. The woman’s BMI dropped from 45 to 33, said USA Today citing a report published in the December 22 online edition of The Lancet.

A chest X-ray revealed a cavity in her “left, upper zone” that, after ruling out tuberculosis, appeared to be caused by the gastric band, said her physicians, wrote USA Today. It seems ongoing food aspiration—which resulted in reflux and led to lung damage and cavitation (holes in the lung, typically due to infection)—originated with the gastric band fitting, according to a journal news release, said USA Today.

Antibiotics provided limited relief. Physicians emptied the fluid from the gastric band and, soon after, the symptoms disappeared, said USA Today. According to the report’s authors, band slippage and band erosion are among the most typical complications of the procedure, while lung issues are rare. Delayed lung problems “can present with asthma-like symptoms and can be misdiagnosed if not properly investigated,” concluded Dr. Adam Czapran, of the department of respiratory medicine and coronary care at the United Kingdom’s Russells Hall Hospital, and colleagues, wrote USA Today.

“Patients who have undergone laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding should have chest radiography or thoracic CT scan, or both, if they present with respiratory symptoms,” the team wrote in the news release. “Withdrawal of the fluid from the band should be done as soon as possible to relieve the obstruction. Given the increasing frequency of people undergoing interventional procedures to aid weight loss, recognition of the short-term and long-term complications is paramount,” Czapran and team added.

We recently wrote that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it took action against eight California surgical centers and the marketing firm 1.800.GET.THIN LLC, for misleading advertising of the Lap-Band. In its letters, the FDA warned that advertising used by these firms to promote the Lap-Band procedure fails to provide required risk information that include warnings, precautions, possible side effects, and contraindications

Health care providers promoting the gastric band procedure must educate patients about the risks involved, which must also be indicated in advertising and promotional materials, which patients should read and should receive from their physician, said the FDA.

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