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Annals of Surgery:
Review

The Physiologic Effects of Pneumoperitoneum in the Morbidly Obese

Nguyen, Ninh T. MD, FACS*; Wolfe, Bruce M. MD, FACS†

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Abstract

Objective: To review the physiologic effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) pneumoperitoneum in the morbidly obese.

Summary Background Data: The number of laparoscopic bariatric operations performed in the United States has increased dramatically over the past several years. Laparoscopic bariatric surgery requires abdominal insufflation with CO2 and an increase in the intraabdominal pressure up to 15 mm Hg. Many studies have demonstrated the adverse consequences of pneumoperitoneum; however, few studies have examined the physiologic effects of pneumoperitoneum in the morbidly obese.

Methods: A MEDLINE search from 1994 to 2003 was performed using the key words morbid obesity, laparoscopy, bariatric surgery, pneumoperitoneum, and gastric bypass. The authors reviewed papers evaluating the physiologic effects of pneumoperitoneum in morbidly obese subjects undergoing laparoscopy. The topics examined included alteration in acid-base balance, hemodynamics, femoral venous flow, and hepatic, renal, and cardiorespiratory function.

Results: Physiologically, morbidly obese patients have a higher intraabdominal pressure at 2 to 3 times that of nonobese patients. The adverse consequences of pneumoperitoneum in morbidly obese patients are similar to those observed in nonobese patients. Laparoscopy in the obese can lead to systemic absorption of CO2 and increased requirements for CO2 elimination. The increased intraabdominal pressure enhances venous stasis, reduces intraoperative portal venous blood flow, decreases intraoperative urinary output, lowers respiratory compliance, increases airway pressure, and impairs cardiac function. Intraoperative management to minimize the adverse changes include appropriate ventilatory adjustments to avoid hypercapnia and acidosis, the use of sequential compression devices to minimizes venous stasis, and optimize intravascular volume to minimize the effects of increased intraabdominal pressure on renal and cardiac function.

Conclusions: Morbidly obese patients undergoing laparoscopic bariatric surgery are at risk for intraoperative complications relating to the use of CO2 pneumoperitoneum. Surgeons performing laparoscopic bariatric surgery should understand the physiologic effects of CO2 pneumoperitoneum in the morbidly obese and make appropriate intraoperative adjustments to minimize the adverse changes.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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