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ACG: Gastric Bypass Surgery Linked to Complications

Increased risk of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and nutritional deficiencies

FRIDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Obese patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery may be at high risk of developing complications such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth as well as calcium and zinc deficiencies, according to research presented this week at the 72nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Philadelphia.

Timothy Koch, M.D., of the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., and colleagues performed hydrogen breath-testing for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in 43 patients who underwent the Roux-en-Y procedure, and they identified abnormal findings in almost every patient. The investigators also found that the patients had low calcium levels, which could increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

In a second study, Koch and colleagues examined the same 43 patients and found that small intestinal bacterial overgrowth was strongly associated with zinc deficiencies, suggesting that gastric bypass surgery interferes with zinc absorption in the jejunum by a trancellular route involving a zinc-specific transporter, Zip4.

"Patients should be aware that gastric bypass surgery can alter gut ecology and cause severe nutritional deficiencies, and receive proper evaluation from a gastrointestinal specialist," Koch said in a statement.

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