Weight Loss Surgery Can Cause Other Problems

As the nutrition of our country has declined and obesity becomes ever more problematic in our country, bariatric weight loss procedures have become more and more popular. As often occurs when medicine alters the normal efficiency of our bodies, other conditions emerge. One of those conditions is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome which comes from a deficiency of vitamin B-1 also known as thiamine.

Thiamine is an important cofactor in glucose metabolism. Its deficiency can lead to severe cardiovascular and neurological complications. The neurological symptoms may be confusion, memory issues, loss of balance, dizziness, double vision and difficulty concentrating. Severe B-1 deficiency is shown from blood tests. Even marginal depletion may give rise to symptoms that are vague and often overlooked. Malnutrition after bariatric surgery can lead to Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, which is uncommon, but can be a life changing and serious condition.

The good news is it is easily treated, but only if it is found in time. A case on point was a 20 year old patient who underwent laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy with a seemingly normal recovery. Five weeks after surgery he was admitted to the emergency room with persistent vomiting and neurological changes. Endoscopy and brain imaging were normal but his labs showed a low level of B1. He was started on parenteral thiamine medication and soon discharged, having made a full recovery.

If doctors had not recognized and treated these problems as soon as they did, this young patient may have had severe, even fatal results. Failure to make an early diagnosis of B1 deficiency and begin treatment may be malpractice. If you or a loved one experiences these issues as a result of weight loss surgery, please call us so we can help you investigate and determine your rights.