, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 981-988
Date: 26 Apr 2008

Severe Recurrent Hypoglycemia after Gastric Bypass Surgery

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Bariatric surgery is, at present, the most effective method to achieve major, long-term weight loss in severely obese patients. Recently, severe recurrent symptomatic hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia was described as a consequence of gastric bypass surgery (GBS) in a small series of patients with severe obesity. Pancreatic nesidioblastosis, a hyperplasia of islet cells, was postulated to be the cause, and subtotal or total pancreatectomy was the suggested treatment.


We observed that severe, disabling hypoglycemia after GBS occurred only in patients with loss of restriction. Whether restoration of gastric restriction might treat severe, recurrent hypoglycemia after GBS is unknown.


Therefore, gastric restriction was restored by surgical placement of a silastic ring (n = 8, first two patients with additional distal pancreatectomy) or an adjustable gastric band (n = 4) around the pouch in 12 consecutive patients presenting with severe hypoglycemia (blood glucose below 2.2 mM). At follow-up after restoration of gastric restriction (median follow-up 7 months, range 5 to 19 months), 11 patients demonstrated no hypoglycemic episodes, while one had recurrence of hypoglycemia and underwent distal pancreatectomy. Procedural mortality was 0% and morbidity 8.3%.


Patients suffering from severe recurrent hypoglycemia after GBS can be treated, in most cases, just by restoration of gastric restriction. Distal pancreatectomy should be considered a second-line treatment.