Abdominal pain and internal hernias after Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass: are we dealing with the tip of an iceberg?

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Francesco Tartamella
Antonio Ziccarelli
Stefano Cecchini
Michelina Ferro
Matteo Riccò
Edoardo Baldini
Rudj Mancini
Marco Anselmino
Federico Marchesi


abdominal pain, gastric bypass, obesity, Peteresen hernia, internal hernia


Background: Abdominal pain is the most frequent cause of hospital admission after Roux-en-y gastric bypass (RYGB). Among numerous possible underlying causes, internal hernias represent one of the most peculiar and insidious conditions, setting challenging diagnostic and therapeutic problems for the surgeon. The aim of this study is to analyze aspecific abdominal pain incidence and characteristics after RYGB, discriminating peculiar aspects suggestive of internal hernias. Methods: 13 patients submitted to internal hernia repair after laparoscopic antecolic RYGB and a group of 49 controls (non-complicated RYGB) have been assessed using a specific questionnaire. Overall aspecific abdominal pain incidence and characteristics have been analysed. Typical pain traits and predisposing conditions for internal hernias have been investigated. Results: 33% of controls reported aspecific abdominal pain after RYGB, mainly early postprandial, deep, remittent, colicky, located in the upper left abdomen. 77% of the case patients reported prodromal episodes of pain similar to the controls. The only significant differences between prodromal and acute episodes were pain intensity and quality (continuous). Excess weight lost at 3 months significantly correlated with internal hernia occurrence (p: 0.002). Conclusions: Based on abdominal pain characteristics, we can reasonably postulate the presence of remittent bowel torsions (remittent internal hernia) in many patients after antecolic RYGB, only occasionally complicating. Therapeutic management of these cases remains controversial, being laparoscopic exploration a reasonable option when symptomatology is suggestive.

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