The Price of Weight Loss by Jejunoileal Shunt

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In the performance of end-to-end jejunoileal shunt, operative mortality can be nearly eliminated and late deaths largely prevented by assiduous care and follow-up. We attempted to prevent serious complications by regular outpatient visits. However, 703 outpatient visits costing $49.00 per visit failed to improve results. There were 170 readmissions among 64 patients lasting 4–57 days (average hospital stay—16 days per admission at $3,000.00). Twenty-four of those patients alive and followed 18 months or more (53%) sustained adequate weight loss and were free of major problems. Patient satisfaction nevertheless appears high, and when there has been a good weight loss, even severe problems tend to be glossed over by the patient. The ultimate outcome is still unknown, but it seems clear that many of the patients are in a state of controlled malnutrition, which may lead to progressive penalties. We have documented gross pathologic lesions in the bypass enteritis syndrome and draw attention to neurologic sequelae of the bypass, which probably represents deficiency manifestations. Despite brilliant results in some patients and satisfactory results in perhaps half, the cost in life, suffering, dollars, patient and physician time, the uncertain long-term effects, and the unpredictability of the weight loss, all place in question the appropriateness of jejunoileal shunt as the remedy for morbid obesity.

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