Morton said he now recommends probiotic supplements to his patients, and he plans to continue to look for ways to enhance the outcomes from the procedure.
Roughly 15 million Americans are morbidly obese, and bypass surgery is becoming an increasingly common treatment for the problem. Some 150,000 Americans who have a body mass index of more than 40 who are typically at least 100 pounds overweight have the procedure each year.
Morton said the study was prompted by the fact that some patients have problems eating after gastric-bypass surgery. "For some reason, the food doesn't go down right," he said. When no anatomical reasons could be found for blockages, he hypothesized that a build-up of bacteria in the intestine bacterial overgrowth might be the culprit.
"Bacterial overgrowth can be bad in that it changes your motility, how you empty," Morton said. "A lot of people aren't aware that we all carry about a lot of bacteria in our intestines and that they're extremely helpful in aiding digestion. And I thought, 'Well, if we give these patients probiotics, then maybe we can improve these symptoms.'
"Part of the obesity puzzle may be due to the kind of bacteria you have in your intestine," he said.
|Contact: Diane Rogers|
Stanford University Medical Center