Advances in the Surgical Treatment of Obesity

Brant K. Oelschlager, MD, Carlos A. Pellegrini, MD


March 28, 2003

In This Article


Morbid obesity is among the most prevalent, accelerating, and devastating health problems that we, as individuals, face in the United States today. Unfortunately, this affliction is increasing without an effective medical or nutritional treatment. Thus, in 2003, surgical intervention represents the only effective treatment option, and so surgery is taking on greater importance in this setting. Such a radical approach to losing weight is not new; in fact, surgery for obesity has been around for a long time and has presented in many forms. These operations, although effective, are generally risky and invasive, thus decreasing their widespread use. However, advancements in minimally invasive surgical techniques, specifically laparoscopic techniques, have resulted in an expansion in obesity surgery over the last few years. Variations and developments in technique have featured prominently at the annual meeting of the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) in recent years. Demonstrations of tools and techniques used in this setting have permeated both the exhibit and lecture halls.

In line with this, the 2003 annual SAGES meeting was dominated by reports of short- and medium-term results of minimally invasive surgery for obesity, as well as by reports on modifications in technique and on avoiding complications with these less-invasive operations. It is important that practicing gastroenterologists be familiar with these operations not only to determine where these strategies may fit in the treatment approach to their patients, but also because of the inevitable implications that these operations will occasionally have on the endoscopist. This report summarizes the most important findings from these meeting proceedings as they are likely to affect the practice of minimally invasive surgery for obesity.


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