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Link Between Gastric Bypass Surgery and Neurological Conditions

A decade-long study by neurologists at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock has found a link between the increasingly popular weight-loss surgery known as gastric bypass and several serious neurological conditions.

Katalin Juhasz Pocsine, M.D., associate professor in the UAMS Department of Neurology, is lead author of the study. The study concludes that patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, are at risk for long-term vitamin and mineral deficiencies and may develop a variety of neurological symptoms.

The frequency of operations for treatment of obesity is rapidly growing in the United States, Juhasz Pocsine said. These procedures are usually successful in reducing weight, but they are not without risk. Many of the complications patients experience affect the nervous system, and they are often disabling and irreversible.

More than 150 patients who came to the UAMS Neurology Clinic following gastric bypass were included in the report. In 26 of these patients, a link between the surgery and their neurological condition was found.

All of the patients involved in the study had previously undergone the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure in which a small stomach pouch is created by stapling part of the stomach together and bypassing part of the small bowel, resulting in reduced food intake and a decreased ability to absorb the nutrients in food. The interval between surgery and onset of neurological symptoms ranged from 4 weeks to 18 years.

Additional authors include UAMS Department of Neurology faculty members Sami I. Harik, M.D., department chairman and professor of neurology; Stacy A. Rudnicki, M.D., associate professor of neurology; and Robert L. Lee Archer, M.D., associate professor of neurology.

The 26 people involved in the study were followed for several years by UAMS physicians and represent the largest comp
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