Esophageal dysmotility including features of achalasia may develop because of bariatric surgery. However, the prevalence of these complications is unknown. We sought to define the prevalence of dysphagia and major esophageal motility disorders including achalasia after bariatric surgery through a large retrospective database review.
Patients with a history of laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass who underwent a diagnostic high-resolution impedance manometry (HRIM) either before or after bariatric surgery across 3 large tertiary referral sites from June 2012 through February 2019 were identified from a procedural database. HRIM studies were interpreted per the Chicago classification v3.0 by a blinded investigator (K.R.). Demographic/clinical features were collected. In addition, patients who underwent bariatric surgery from January 2014 to April 2015 were contacted and administered a validated symptom assessment survey to gauge the overall prevalence of dysphagia in a postbariatric population.
A total of 137 patients were identified, including 97 who underwent HRIM after bariatric surgery (laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy [n = 39, 40.1%]; Roux-en-Y gastric bypass [n = 58, 59.8%]) at a median of 5.84 years (interquartile range 2.1–12.5) postoperatively and 40 preoperative bariatric surgery candidates with medically complicated obesity. A manometric pattern consistent with achalasia was identified in 7 (7.2%) postsurgical patients compared with none in the preoperative group (P = 0.08). We further identified a separate achalasia-like pattern defined by aperistalsis and increased intragastric pressure (postobesity surgery esophageal dysfunction [POSED]) in 5 (5.2%) postsurgical patients vs none found preoperatively (P = 0.14). Achalasia or POSED was associated with postbariatric surgery (12.4% vs 0%, P = 0.02). Increasing time since surgery was independently associated with the development of achalasia (median 12.5 vs 5.8 years, P = 0.02), POSED (median 15.0 vs 5.8 years, P = 0.02) and major motility disorders (6.6 vs 4.9 years, P = 0.01). Furthermore, among 271 postbariatric surgery patients contacted for symptom assessment via survey, the prevalence of dysphagia was 13.7% at a mean 3.9 years after surgery.
Postoperative dysphagia is a common long-term complication of bariatric surgery. This is potentially the consequence of a time-dependent association with the development of postoperative esophageal dysmotility, particularly achalasia and POSED. Consequently, esophageal dysmotility may be an important under-recognized complication of bariatric surgery.