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Might Weight-Loss Surgery Lead to Fractures?

Small study finds nearly double the normal rate of broken bones

THURSDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- Having bariatric surgery to induce weight loss might put a person at greater risk for broken bones, a new study says.

About one in five cases reviewed by Mayo Clinic researchers revealed that the person fractured a bone within an average of seven years after the surgery. Most breaks occurred in the bones of the hands and feet, but hip, spine and humerus (upper arm bone) fractures also were found.

"We knew there was a dramatic and extensive bone turnover and loss of bone density after bariatric surgery," study senior author Dr. Jackie Clowes, a Mayo rheumatologist, said in a Mayo news release. "But we didn't know what that meant in terms of fractures."

The study, which is ongoing, involves a review of the records of 292 people who had bariatric procedures -- either stapling of the stomach (gastric bypass) or banding of the stomach (gastric band surgery) -- over two decades at the Minnesota facility. The procedures are done to limit or reduce the intake of food and nutrients into the body.

The findings, which were to be presented at the Endocrinology Society's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., included results from 97 surgical patients.

Of that group, 21 people had 31 fractures, the study found. That's a fracture rate nearly twice what would be expected in a comparable group of people who'd not had the surgery, according to background information in a news release from the Endocrine Society.

Additional study is needed to determine what causes the increased risk for fractures, the researchers said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about bariatric surgery.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCES: Endocrine Society, news release, June 11, 2009; Mayo Clinic, news release, June 10, 2009

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