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Surg Endosc. 2007 Jun;21(6):985-8. Epub 2007 Feb 16.

Advanced laparoscopic skills decrease the learning curve for laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans, LA, USA.



The reported learning curve for laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (LRYGB) is 20-100 cases. Our aim was to investigate whether advanced laparoscopic skills could decrease the learning curve for LRYGB with regard to major morbidity.


The senior author performed all operations in this series. His training included a laparoscopic fellowship without bariatric surgery, six years in surgical practice focusing on upper abdominal laparoscopic surgery, two courses on bariatric surgery at national meetings, one week of observing a bariatric program, and two mentored LRGBY cases. A comprehensive obesity program was put in place before the program began. Data were collected prospectively and reviewed at the series' end. Results are presented as mean +/- standard deviation and standard statistical analysis was applied.


Between December 2003 and February 2005, 107 LRYGB operations were performed. Mean operative time decreased significantly with experience (p < 0.0001) and was 154 +/- 29, 132 +/- 40, 127 +/- 29, and 114 +/- 30 min by quartile. Mean length of stay was 2.9 +/- 1.6 days. Mean excess weight loss was 45.3% (n = 41) at six months. There were no conversions to an open procedure, no anastomotic leaks, no pulmonary embolisms, and no bowel obstructions. The five major complications (3 in the first 50 and 2 in the last 57 cases, p = NS) were two cases of biliopancreatic limb obstruction, two cases of significant gastrointestinal bleeding from anastomotic ulcer, and one case of gastric volvulus of the remnant stomach.


A bariatric fellowship and/or extended mentoring are not required to safely initiate a bariatric program for surgeons with advanced laparoscopic skills. Operative time decreases significantly with experience, but morbidity and mortality remain low even early in the learning curve. A comprehensive obesity program seems necessary for success.

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