In performing bariatric surgery, we will remove a portion of the stomach and, in the case of a gastric bypass or duodenal switch, attach the small intestines to the new stomach. Surgical staples are used to seal the connection of the surgery site.
I often get questions from patients about the risks associated with these surgery staples after bariatric surgery. In this blog, we will talk about the purpose of surgical staples and the associated risks.
Surgery Staples after Bariatric Surgery
Surgery staples create a temporary seal at the surgery site in the gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and duodenal switch. The stapler compresses the stomach or intestinal tissue to deploy a set of titanium staples. Titanium is inert and not metallic, so it has no magnetic properties. Therefore, patients do not need to be concerned about going through a metal detector or getting other procedures, such as an MRI.
These surgery staples are typically about 2 to 2.5mm long and form a "B" shape when closed. The purpose of the "B" shape staple is to squeeze the tissue while preventing bleeding.
Over time, the tissue will heal and form a seal itself, so there will not be a need for surgery staples after bariatric surgery. However, the surgery staples will remain in the body.
Risks of Surgery Staples after Bariatric Surgery
The most problematic risk of surgery staples after bariatric surgery is staple line leaks. A leak occurs when the tissue does not form a complete seal, or there is a stapler malfunction. This can result in leakage of the bowel or stomach contents and can have serious consequences.
If a staple line leak were to occur, a patient might need another surgery or become hospitalized for treatment.
The good news is that the risk of a staple leak is very low, occurring in less than 1% of gastric bypass patients and 0.5% of gastric sleeve patients. Surgical stapler technology has significantly advanced in recent years, greatly lowering the risk of stapler malfunctions and leaks.