The study by physicians at the University of California at Irvine compared results of almost 3,200 operations done just before approval and almost 3,100 done just after approval. It found that the number of facilities doing such surgery decreased from 60 to 45, indicating a shift to certified, high-volume centers.
People who had surgery after approval had shorter hospital stays (3.5 days vs. 3.1 days) and lower rates of complications (12.2 percent vs. 10 percent). No significant difference was seen in the in-hospital mortality rate (0.28 percent vs. 0.2 percent).
"Although we only examined the Medicare beneficiaries population in this survey, we suspect that the improvement in outcomes will also be extrapolated to the population that is not eligible for Medicare," the researchers wrote.
Bariatric surgeries have increased steadily in the United States -- from 16,800 in 1992 to about 205,000 in 2007, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
For a detailed description of bariatric surgery, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Daniel P. Schauer, M.D., assistant professor, internal medicine, University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center; T. Karl Byrne, M.D., F.A.S.M.B.S., professor of surgery and director of bariatric surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston; January 2010 Archives of Surgery
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