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System Assesses Death Risk for Bariatric Surgery Patients

A simple five-factor scoring system can help doctors predict the risk of dying among patients being considered for gastric bypass surgery.

The system takes into account a patient's weight, age, gender, blood pressure, and the risk of developing a blood clot in the lungs, and then ranks patients as having a low, medium or high risk of dying from the weight-loss surgery.

The scoring system, first proposed last year by Duke University Medical Center surgeons, was tested in study of more than 4,400 patients. It found that patients in the high-risk group were six times more likely to die than those in the low-risk group, while medium-risk patients were three times more likely to die than low-risk patients.

The study was to be presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Surgical Association.

"This represents the first validated scoring system for assessing risk for patients considering bariatric surgery," Duke surgeon Eric DeMaria, who developed the system, said in a prepared statement.

About 170,000 Americans had gastric bypass surgery in 2005, according to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery.

Last Updated: April 27, 2007

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