Reoperation and Medicare Expenditures After Laparoscopic Gastric Band Surgery

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Following the US Food and Drug Administration approval for laparoscopic gastric band surgery in 2001, as many as 96 000 devices have been placed annually. The reported rates of reoperation range from 4% to 60% in short-term studies; however, to our knowledge, few long-term population-level data on outcomes or expenditures are known.


To describe the rate of device-related reoperations occurring after laparoscopic gastric band surgery as well as the associated payments in a longitudinal national cohort.

Design, Settings, and Participants

This retrospective review of 25 042 Medicare beneficiaries who underwent gastric band placement between 2006 and 2013 identifies gastric band–related reoperations, including device removal, device replacement, or revision to a different bariatric procedure (eg, a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy). The rates of reoperation were risk adjusted using a multivariable logistic regression model that included patient age, sex, race/ethnicity, Elixhauser comorbidities, and the year that the operation was performed.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Rate of device-related reoperation nationally and across individual hospital referral regions. Thirty-day total episode Medicare payments to hospitals for the index operation and any subsequent reoperations.


Of the 25 042 patients who underwent gastric band placement, 20 687 (82.61%) were white, 18 143 (72.45%) were women, and the mean age was 57.56 years. Patients (mean age, 57.5; 76.2% women) requiring reoperation had lower rates of hypertension (64.9% vs 73.4%; P < .001) and diabetes (40.4% vs 44.6%; P < .001) and were more likely to have their index operation at a for-profit hospital (34.6% vs 22.0%; P < .001). With an average of 4.5-year follow-up, 4636 patients (18.5%) underwent 17 539 reoperations (an average of 3.8 procedures/patient). Hospital referral regions demonstrated a 2.9-fold variation in risk- and reliability-adjusted rates of reoperation (lower quartile average, 13.3%; upper quartile average, 39.1%). During the study period, Medicare paid $470 million for laparoscopic gastric band associated procedures, of which $224 million (47.6%) of the payments were for reoperations. From 2006 to 2013, the proportion of payments from Medicare for reoperations increased from 16.4% to 77.3% of their annual spending on the gastric band device.

Conclusions and Relevance

Among Medicare beneficiaries undergoing gastric band surgery, device-related reoperation was common, costly, and varied widely across hospital referral regions. These findings suggest that payers should reconsider their coverage of the gastric band device.

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