Can technical factors explain the volume-outcome relationship in gastric bypass surgery?

Mark D. Smith, Emma Patterson, Abdus S. Wahed, Steven H. Belle, Anita P. Courcoulas, David Flum, Saurabh Khandelwal, James E. Mitchell, Alfons Pomp, Walter J. Pories, Bruce Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The existence of a relationship between surgeon volume and patient outcome has been reported for different complex surgical operations. This relationship has also been confirmed for patients undergoing Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) in the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS) study. Despite multiple studies demonstrating volume-outcome relationships, fewer studies investigate the causes of this relationship. Objective: The purpose of the present study is to understand possible explanations for the volume-outcome relationship in LABS. Methods: LABS includes a 10-center, prospective study examining 30-day outcomes after bariatric surgery. The relationship between surgeon annual RYGB volume and incidence of a composite endpoint (CE) has been published previously. Technical aspects of RYGB surgery were compared between high and low volume surgeons. The previously published model was adjusted for select technical factors. Results: High-volume surgeons (>100 RYGBs/yr) were more likely to perform a linear stapled gastrojejunostomy, use fibrin sealant, and place a drain at the gastrojejunostomy compared with low-volume surgeons (<25 RYGBs/yr), and less likely to perform an intraoperative leak test. After adjusting for the newly identified technical factors, the relative risk of CE was.93 per 10 RYGB/yr increase in volume, compared with.90 for clinical risk adjustment alone. Conclusion: High-volume surgeons exhibited certain differences in technique compared with low-volume surgeons. After adjusting for these differences, the strength of the volume-outcome relationship previously found was reduced only slightly, suggesting that other factors are also involved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-629
Number of pages7
JournalSurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bariatric surgery
  • RYGB
  • Volume-outcome relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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