Prevalence and Co-occurrence of Upper and Lower Functional Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Patients Eligible for Bariatric Surgery



Obesity is considered as a risk factor for many functional digestive disorders. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the prevalence and the association of functional digestive symptoms affecting the upper and the lower digestive tract in patients eligible for bariatric surgery.


Before surgery, 120 consecutive patients with normal upper endoscopy (7.5% males, mean BMI 44 ± 6 m/kg2) have filled a standard questionnaire in order to evaluate the presence of depressive symptoms and functional digestive disorders according to the Rome criteria. The major symptoms (esophageal, gastroduodenal, anorectal, and abdominal pain) were coded as dichotomous variables. Data analysis was performed using multivariate logistic regression with a backwards selection procedure adjusted only for the variables that were significant in univariate analysis (p < 0.05).


Functional symptoms were present in 89% of the subjects (2.5 functional digestive symptoms/subject). Depression symptoms were found in 43% of the patients. Esophageal symptoms were independent predictors for the presence of gastric, bowel, and anorectal symptoms. Functional abdominal pain and bowel symptoms were present, respectively, in 19% and 84% of the patients. Approximately half of the patients have specific functional bowel disorders (28.6% constipation, 18% irritable bowel syndrome, 18% diarrhea, 1% bloating) and 35.7% have non-specific bowel disorders. Anorectal symptoms were found in 40% of the patients: difficult defecation in 32% and fecal incontinence in 9.8% of the patients. Depression was an independent predictor for anorectal symptoms.


This study shows the high prevalence of functional bowel symptoms in patients complaining of morbid obesity.

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We thank the precious assistance of Doctor Regis COHEN for his valuable remarks.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Michel Bouchoucha.

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Fysekidis, M., Bouchoucha, M., Bihan, H. et al. Prevalence and Co-occurrence of Upper and Lower Functional Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Patients Eligible for Bariatric Surgery. OBES SURG 22, 403–410 (2012).

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  • Morbid obesity
  • Functional bowel disorders
  • Rome criteria