Obesity surgery’s complications

From Times wire reports

Doctors warn that a few obesity surgery patients have developed a serious neurological condition, with symptoms of confusion and poor coordination, linked to a lack of vitamin B1.

Wernicke encephalopathy, which is caused by a thiamine deficiency, is normally associated with severe alcoholism or chronic malnutrition.

However, researchers say it can also occur within a few months of obesity surgery if patients stop taking prescribed vitamin supplements or if they vomit frequently, preventing vitamins from being absorbed.

Study author Sonal Singh, an instructor in internal medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, said cases of Wernicke encephalopathy may increase as the number of bariatric surgeries performed in the United States continues to grow.


About 170,000 obesity surgeries were done in 2005, up from 120,000 the year before and 16,000 in 1992. The findings were published in the March 13 issue of the journal Neurology.