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Kidney Patients May Face Serious Side Effects From Weight-Loss Surgery

THURSDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Weight-loss surgery can help kidney disease patients shed excess pounds, but many suffer significant side effects, a new study finds.

The study included 74 obese kidney disease patients who underwent weight-loss surgery at three major teaching hospitals in London between 2007 and 2012. One year after surgery, 61 percent of the patients had lost weight.

Surgical complications resulted in 16 adverse events, including two deaths. Acute kidney damage was the most common problem (4 percent). This was followed by leak (3 percent), acidosis and elevated blood potassium levels (3 percent), postoperative chest infection (3 percent), vitamin B12/iron deficiency (3 percent) and heart attack (1 percent).

Four other patients died during the study period, including two deaths related to cancer, according to the study, which is scheduled for presentation at the Kidney Week meeting of the American Society of Nephrology, held from Nov. 5 to Nov. 10 in Atlanta.

Although weight-loss surgery is effective in obese patients with chronic kidney disease, the rates of harmful side effects and death are high, Helen MacLaughlin, of King's College London, and colleagues said in a meeting news release.

The study authors called for further research to identify risk factors for harmful side effects and death, and for nonsurgical alternatives to help obese kidney disease patients lose weight.

Because this study was being presented at a medical meeting, the findings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about weight-loss surgery.

SOURCE: American Society of Nephrology, news release, Nov. 7, 2013