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Simple System Accurately Predicts Weight-loss Surgery Risk

A simple scoring system based on five medical factors accurately predicts which patients being considered for gastric bypass surgery would be at highest// risk of dying.

The scoring system, which was first proposed last year by Duke University Medical Center surgeons, has been validated in a new study of more than 4,400 patients. The system takes into account a patient's weight, gender, age, blood pressure and risk of developing a blood clot in the lungs.

Physicians using the system can easily determine if their patients' risk of dying from the surgery is low, medium or high. The new analysis found that patients in the high-risk group were six times more likely to die than those in the low-risk group, and patients in the medium-risk group were three times more likely to die.

Gastric bypass surgery, also known bariatric surgery, is used to help people who are morbidly obese lose weight. Although the surgery has several variants, the basic procedure involves stapling off a large portion of the stomach and reattaching the intestine to the smaller remaining portion. Because of their decreased stomach capacity, patients are unable to eat as much food and feel sated much faster.

"This represents the first validated scoring system for assessing risk for patients considering bariatric surgery," said Duke surgeon Eric DeMaria, M.D., who developed the system. "The system gives surgeons concrete data they can use in surgical decision-making and in their discussions with patients. Also, the system provides standardization of surgical outcomes, making comparisons among centers more meaningful."

DeMaria presented results of the new study April 26, 2007, at the annual meeting of the American Surgical Association, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Roughly 170,000 Americans underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2005, according to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery.

The new study examined data on 4,433
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