Potential Risks and Complications of Duodenal Switch

A Duodenal Switch is a complicated surgery in which part of the stomach is removed and the smaller intestines are rerouted to separate the food route from the route taken by bile and other digestive juices. The Duodenal Switch not only helps you eat less, but helps you absorb fewer calories from the food you eat, so that you'll experience dramatic and rapid weight loss. However, the Duodenal Switch is a highly invasive surgery that carries a number of risks.

The Duodenal Switch Procedure

The Duodenal Switch is a twofold surgery. First, the surgeon will remove a large part of your stomach, along the greater curvature, leaving you with a long and tube-like stomach. He'll then remove your gall bladder and reroute your small intestine, removing a large part of it so that food passes more quickly through your digestive tract and you therefore absorb fewer calories from it. The surgeon will also create a new route through which bile and digestive juices pass, which contributes to malabsorption of calories.

The Duodenal Switch is a complicated, highly invasive procedure. It's not often performed because they're aren't many surgeons who can do it.

Complications of the Duodenal Switch Surgery

During the surgery itself, you'll run the risk of bleeding profusely and needing a blood transfusion. You could sustain injuries to your spleen, liver, large intestines and esophagus.

The Duodenal Switch surgery carries a number of potential post operative complications. The most common post operative risks are:

  • Infection
  • Rupture of the stomach or small intestines
  • Deep thrombo-phlebitis
  • Ulceration
  • Leaking near surgical staples
  • Pneumonia
  • Intestinal blockage in the small bowel
  • Obstruction of the stomach at the duodenum
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Pulmonary emboli
  • Abcess
  • Pancreatitis
  • Internal Bleeding

Long Term Complications of the Duodenal Switch

You won't be able to eat normal sized portions for some time after the procedure, as your stomach will need time to stretch back out to accommodate normal sized portions. Instead, you'll have to eat several very small meals each day for several months.

The Duodenal Switch procedure has been modified to leave the duodenum and the pyloric valve (the muscle that connects the duodenum to the stomach) intact as part of the food stream. This eliminates some of the risks common to other bariatric surgeries, like dumping syndrome, and also greatly lowers the risk of ulcers and blockages. However, corrective surgery might be required to correct any complications, and these surgeries carry increasingly high morbidity rates.

You'll still be able to digest food normally after a Duodenal Switch, which isn't possible for those who've had Lap-Band or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. However, you'll still be at risk for malnutrition and may need vitamin supplements for the rest of your life.

Other long term complications include chronic gas and diarrhea and foul smelling bowel movements. You'll run a continued risk of bowel obstruction, hernia, excessive weight loss, kidney stones, anemia, osteoporosis and osteopenia, or low bone mineral density leading to increased risk of breakage.

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