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Perforated marginal ulcers after laparoscopic gastric bypass



Perforated marginal ulcer (PMU) after laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (LRYGB) is a serious complication, but its incidence and etiology have rarely been investigated. Therefore, a retrospective review of all patients undergoing LRYGB at the authors’ center was conducted to determine the incidence of PMU and whether any causative factors were present.


A prospectively kept database of all patients at the authors’ bariatric center was retrospectively reviewed. The complete records of patients with a PMU were examined individually for accuracy and analyzed for treatment, outcome, and possible underlying causes of the marginal perforation.


Between April 1999 and August 2007, 1% of the patients (35/3,430) undergoing laparoscopic gastric bypass experienced one or more perforated marginal ulcers 3 to 70 months (median, 18 months) after LRYGB. The patients with and without perforation were not significantly different in terms of mean age (37 vs 41 years), weight (286 vs 287 lb), body mass index (BMI) (46 vs 47), or female gender (89% vs 83%). Of the patients with perforations, 2 (6%) were taking steroids, 10 (29%) were receiving nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) at the time of the perforation, 18 (51%) were actively smoking, and 6 of the smokers also were taking NSAIDs. Eleven of the patients (31%) who perforated did not have at least one of these possible risk factors, but 4 (36%) of the 11 patients in this group had been treated after bypass for a marginal ulcer. Only 7 (20%) of the 35 patients who had laparoscopic bypass, or 7 (0.2%) in the entire group of 3,430 patients, perforated without any warning. There were no deaths, but three patients reperforated.


The incidence of a marginal ulcer perforating after LRYGB was significant (>1%) and appeared to be related to smoking or the use of NSAIDs or steroids. Because only 0.2% of all patients acutely perforated without some risk factor or warning, long-term ulcer prophylaxis or treatment may be necessary for only a select group of high-risk patients.

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Correspondence to Edward L. Felix.

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Felix, E.L., Kettelle, J., Mobley, E. et al. Perforated marginal ulcers after laparoscopic gastric bypass. Surg Endosc 22, 2128–2132 (2008).

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  • Bariatric
  • Complications
  • Perforation
  • Ulcers