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Effort, safety, and findings of routine preoperative endoscopic evaluation of morbidly obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery



Obesity is becoming an epidemic health problem and is associated with concomitant diseases, such as sleep apnea syndrome and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). There is no standardized diagnostic workup for the upper gastrointestinal tract in obese patients; many patients have no upper gastrointestinal symptoms, and few data are available on safety of endoscopy in morbidly obese patients.


Sixty-nine consecutive diagnostic upper gastrointestinal endoscopies in morbidly obese patients (26 men, 43 women; mean age 43.4 ± 10.9 years) were prospectively evaluated from January to December 2008 in an outpatient setting before bariatric procedures. Sedation was administered with propofol. Data on sedation, critical events, and examination times were recorded, as well as pathological findings.


The patients’ mean body mass index was 47.6 ± 7.9 (range, 35.1–73.3) kg/m2; 17.4% reported GERD symptoms. The mean duration of the endoscopy procedure (including sedation) was 20.3 ± 9.3 (range, 5–50) min, and the whole procedure (including preparation and postprocessing) took 58.2 ± 19 (range, 20–120) min. The mean propofol dosage was 380 ± 150 (range, 80–900) mg. Two patients had critical events that required bronchoscopic intratracheal O2 insufflation due to severe hypoxemia (<60% Sao 2). Nearly 80% of patients had pathological findings in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Only 20% reported upper gastrointestinal symptoms. Pathologic conditions were found in the esophagus in 23.2% of the patients, in the stomach in 78.2%, and in the duodenum in 11.6%. The prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection was 8.7%.


Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy can be performed safely. However, careful monitoring and anesthesiological support are required for patients with concomitant diseases and those receiving sedation. Because 80% of the patients with pathological findings were asymptomatic, every morbidly obese patient should undergo endoscopy before bariatric surgery because there may be findings that might change the surgical strategy.

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M. A. Küper, T. Kratt, K. M. Kramer, M. Zdichavsky, J. H. Schneider, J. Glatzle, D. Stüker, A. Königsrainer, and B. L. D. M. Brücher have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

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Correspondence to M. A. Küper.

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M. A. Küper and T. Kratt contributed equally to this manuscript.

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Küper, M.A., Kratt, T., Kramer, K.M. et al. Effort, safety, and findings of routine preoperative endoscopic evaluation of morbidly obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery. Surg Endosc 24, 1996–2001 (2010).

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  • Morbid obesity
  • Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy
  • Upper gastrointestinal pathologies
  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Duodenum
  • Sedation