Although the research team cautioned that more work needs to be done to establish to what degree the benefits of the weight-loss surgery — called “bariatric surgery” — actually outweigh the risks among this population, the investigators found that roughly 5 percent to 10 percent of such patients experienced complications.
The upside of such an intervention could be tremendous, the researchers noted, as obesity can be an impediment to a patient’s ability to undergo a lifesaving kidney transplant.
“This work provides strong evidence that it is safe to proceed with bariatric surgery in kidney failure patients who suffer from obesity,” study co-lead author Dr. John Sweeney, from the Emory University School of Medicine, said in a news release from the American Society of Nephrology.
The findings, slated for publication in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, stem from an analysis of more than 27,000 patients who had bariatric surgery at some point between 2006 and 2008.
Complications among kidney disease patients varied depending on the severity of their illness. About 5 percent of those with either normal kidney function or early disease (stage 1) experienced complications, while nearly 10 percent of those with more advanced disease (stage 5) went on to experience postoperative problems, the researchers found.
The authors suggested that complication rates below 10 percent should be seen as welcome news, given the difficulty many chronic kidney disease patients have in losing weight as their ability to engage in exercise diminishes.
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