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Quiz: Which Complications Can You Prevent After Bariatric Surgery
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Quiz: Which Complications Can You Prevent After Bariatric Surgery

By Dwayne V. Smith, MD FACS


Do you really know as much as you think about bariatric complications? Or maybe you do know as much as you think? Take this quick quiz to find out.


Question: Which complication can you prevent after bariatric surgery?

  1.  Atelectasis or post-operative pneumonia
  2.  Blood clots in legs (DVT)
  3.  Pulmonary emboli
  4.  All of the above

(Check the answer at the end of this article)


Surgery (bariatric or otherwise) has some well-known possible associated post-operative complications. What many patients don’t realize is that they can take an ACTIVE role in their own care in preventing many of these situations. While your care providers are responsible for diagnosing and treating any of the potential complication which may befall you, better still pre-emptively avoiding these situations is much more efficient. This is where YOUR ACTIVE participation positively impacts YOUR speedy recovery.


Atelectasis (poor inflation of the lungs) often occurs after surgery when patients are given narcotics for pain control. Worse, many bariatric patients also have coexistent sleep apnea. Hence the perioperative time is fraught with danger for developing this condition. Add in a few bacteria and perhaps pre-existing lung disease (COPD, asthma) and it only takes a day or so to convert to a full-fledged pneumonia. YOUR deep breaths on a regular basis---sometimes using a plastic device called an incentive spirometer is the best known way to prevent this situation. Your nurse can and will encourage you, but the extra deep breaths YOU take when your nurse may be down the hall can make all the difference.


Blood clots from stasis—lack of mobility. Often, we give low doses of anticoagulant medicine to lessen this risk.  Sometimes we use sequential compression devices to try to keep blood moving in the legs and lessen the risk of forming clots there. The best mechanism is early ambulation with assistance as needed to avoid falls. The problem comes when clots do form in the legs, which may propagate (become larger) and potentially (if they become large enough) then move to the lungs (pulmonary emboli) where the clots may hinder pulmonary circulation and oxygenation to the point of cardiovascular compromise—or even worse. Again, prevention with YOUR early ambulation is the best treatment.


YOUR efforts in actively cooperating with YOUR post-operative care make all of the difference in YOUR healthy recovery!


Key:  All answers to the opening question are “correct”. So, the correct answer is D, all of the above.