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Patient Saf Surg. 2011 Jan 10;5(1):1. doi: 10.1186/1754-9493-5-1.

The influence of iron status and genetic polymorphisms in the HFE gene on the risk for postoperative complications after bariatric surgery: a prospective cohort study in 1,064 patients.

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Weis Center for Research, Geisinger Clinic, 100 North Academy Avenue, Danville, PA 17822, USA.



Gastric bypass surgery is a highly effective therapy for long-term weight loss in severely obese patients, but carries significant perioperative risks including infection, wound dehiscence, and leaks from staple breakdown. Iron status can affect immune function and wound healing, thus may influence peri-operative complications. Common mutations in the HFE gene, the gene responsible for the iron overload disorder hereditary hemochromatosis, may impact iron status.


We analyzed 1064 extremely obese Caucasian individuals who underwent open and laparoscopic Roux-n-Y gastric bypass surgery at the Geisinger Clinic. Serum iron, ferritin, transferrin, and iron binding capacity were measured pre-operatively. All patients had intra-operative liver biopsies and were genotyped for the C282Y and H63D mutations in the HFE gene. Associations between surgical complications and serum iron measures, HFE gene status, and liver iron histology were determined.


We found that increased serum iron and transferrin saturation were present in patients with any post-operative complication, and that increased serum ferritin was also increased in patients with major complications. Increased serum transferrin saturation was also associated with wound complications in open RYGB, and transferrin saturation and ferritin with prolonged lengths of stay. The presence of 2 or more HFE mutations was associated with overall complications as well as wound complications in open RYGB. No differences were found in complication rates between those with stainable liver iron and those without.


Serum iron status and HFE genotype may be associated with complications following RYGB surgery in the extremely obese.

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