Weight-loss surgery may raise gallstone risk, study finds

October 9, 2018 by Serena Gordon, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—The quick weight loss that occurs after bariatric surgery seems to have an unintended consequence—a greater risk of gallstones, a new study suggests.

The rapid loss of pounds was linked to a 10-fold increase in the hospital admissions for pancreatitis, and other gallbladder .

"Gallstones are quite common in post- patients. Medications called bile acid sequestrants can help, but patients have to take them several times a day," explained study co-author Dr. Violeta Popov. She's an assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine and Langone Medical Center in New York City.

In years past, surgeons often removed the gallbladder as part of weight-loss surgeries. However, as weight-loss surgeries have become less invasive, with smaller and smaller incisions, surgeons stopped taking the gallbladder out during the procedure, Popov said. She's also director of bariatric endoscopy at VA New York Harbor Healthcare System.

The researchers looked at records from a national sample of inpatient admissions and found more than 1.5 million admissions for gallstones, other gallbladder conditions and acute pancreatitis from 2006 to 2014. The average patient age was between 52 and 64 years old.

The findings showed that there was a 10- to 100-fold higher risk of these conditions in people who had undergone . And the average patient age was 43 to 55.

People who'd had weight-loss surgery were less likely to die, tended to stay less time in the hospital and their gallbladder disease tended to cost less to treat, the researchers said.

Dr. David Victor III, an American College of Gastroenterology expert, said it wasn't clear before this study that bariatric surgery boosted the risk of gallstones and other gallbladder conditions.

"Obesity is known to increase the risk of gallstones, so patients who have indications for bariatric surgery would have an increased risk of gallstones," said Victor, who's also an assistant professor of medicine at the Institute for Academic Medicine at Houston Methodist.

"This study is interesting because patients who have bariatric surgery may be at risk for gallstones that we have underappreciated before," Victor said.

Both Victor and Popov said it's too soon to recommend again removing the gallbladder when having weight-loss surgery, but it's a question worthy of additional study.

Popov said the rapid weight loss is likely what triggers the conditions, though the study did not prove that.

Victor said it's also too soon to know why there's an increased risk, but it could be because people are obese or it may be a technical aspect of the that boosts the risk. And, he added, it's possible the risk is not permanent.

He agreed that doctors should consider putting patients on bile acid sequestrants to help prevent gallstones and other conditions.

The study was presented Monday at the American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting, in Philadelphia. Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Explore further: Timing of gallbladder and weight loss surgery may help prevent complications

More information: Learn more about gallstones from the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Related Stories

Timing of gallbladder and weight loss surgery may help prevent complications

October 18, 2017
There is a strong association between obesity and gallstones; however, there is no clear evidence regarding the optimal order of gastric bypass surgery and gallbladder surgery (cholecystectomy) when both procedures are clinically ...

Pancreatitis often caused by gallstones—also statins increase risk

December 7, 2015
Idiopathic pancreatitis is often caused by small gallstones that are difficult to observe prior to surgery, shows a study from the University of Eastern Finland. Small gallstones were found in surgery from two out of three ...

Pain characteristics suggest higher benefit from gallbladder surgery

October 12, 2011
According to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, better understanding of a patient's abdominal pain could help physicians know which patients will benefit most from surgical removal of the gallbladder. ...

Weight loss surgery linked to an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease

March 7, 2018
A new Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics analysis has found a link between the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and a past history of weight loss surgery.

To remove the gallbladder or not—that is the question

December 23, 2014
Gallbladder removal is one of the most common operations performed in older adults. Yet, research from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston shows many patients who would benefit most from the surgery don't ...

Complications more likely with emergency gallbladder surgery: study

July 3, 2013
(HealthDay)—Emergency gallbladder surgery carries a higher risk of complications than planned surgery, a new study finds.

Recommended for you

Large restaurant portions a global problem, study finds

December 12, 2018
A new multi-country study finds that large, high-calorie portion sizes in fast food and full service restaurants is not a problem unique to the United States. An international team of researchers found that 94 percent of ...

A correlation between obesity and income has only developed in the past 30 years

December 11, 2018
It is well known that poorer Americans are more likely to be obese or suffer from diabetes; there is a strong negative correlation between household income and both obesity and diabetes. This negative correlation, however, ...

BMI is a good measure of health after all, new study finds

December 11, 2018
A new study from the University of Bristol supports body mass index (BMI) as a useful tool for assessing obesity and health.

Simple tips to curb overindulgence can help stop pounds piling on at Christmas

December 10, 2018
A study by the University of Birmingham and Loughborough University has shown that regular weighing at home and simple tips to curb excess eating and drinking can prevent people from piling on the pounds at Christmas.

Obesity intervention needed before pregnancy

December 6, 2018
New research from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute supports the need for dietary and lifestyle interventions before overweight and obese women become pregnant.

Gene that lets you eat as much as you want holds promise against obesity

December 4, 2018
It sounds too good to be true, but a novel approach that might allow you to eat as much food as you want without gaining weight could be a reality in the near future.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.