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Bariatric center designation and outcomes following repeat abdominal surgery in bariatric patients

Elnahas AI, Reid JN, Lam M, Doumouras AG, Anvari M, Schlachta CM, Alkhamesi NA, Hawel JD, Urbach DR. J Surg Res. 2022; 280:421-8. Epub 2022 Aug 27. DOI:

Introduction — Repeat abdominal surgery in the bariatric surgery patient population may be challenging for non–bariatric-accredited institutions. The impact of regionalized bariatric care on clinical outcomes for bariatric surgery patients requiring repeat abdominal surgery is currently unknown. This study aims to investigate the association between bariatric center designation and clinical outcomes following hepatobiliary, hernia, and upper and lower gastrointestinal operations among patients with prior bariatric surgery.

Methods — This is a cohort study of a large sample of Ontario residents who underwent primary bariatric surgery between 2010 and 2017. A comprehensive list of eligible abdominal operations was captured using administrative data. The primary outcome was 30-d complications. Secondary outcomes included 30-d mortality, readmission, and length of stay.

Results — Among the 3301 study patients, 1305 (40%) received their first abdominal reoperation following bariatric surgery at a designated bariatric center. Nonbariatric center designation was not associated with significantly higher rates of 30-d complications (5.73% versus 5.72%), mortality (0.80% versus 0.77%), readmissions (1.11% versus 1.85%), or median postoperative length of stay (4 versus 4 d). After grouping the category of reoperations, upper gastrointestinal (odds ratio [OR] 0.66, confidence interval [CI] 0.39-1.11) and abdominal wall hernia surgery (OR 0.52, CI 0.27-0.99) showed a lower adjusted OR for complications among bariatric centers.

Conclusions — Our study demonstrates that after adjustment for case-mix and patient characteristics, bariatric surgery patients undergoing repeat abdominal surgery at nonbariatric centers is not associated with higher proportion of complications or mortality. Complex hernia surgery may be considered the most appropriate for referral.