Following bariatric surgery, patients can develop non-specific symptoms self-described as hypoglycemia. However, confirming hypoglycemia can be technically challenging, and therefore, these individuals are frequently treated empirically. This study aimed to describe what diagnostic evaluation and therapeutic interventions patients referred for post-bariatric surgery hypoglycemia undergo.
Retrospective observational cohort study of patients with a history of bariatric surgery was evaluated for post-bariatric surgery hypoglycemia in a tertiary referral center from 2008 to 2017. We collected demographic and bariatric surgery information, clinical presentation of symptoms referred to as hypoglycemia, laboratory and imaging studies performed to evaluate these symptoms, and symptom management and outcomes.
A total of 60/2450 (2.4%) patients who underwent bariatric surgery were evaluated in the Department of Endocrinology for hypoglycemia-related symptoms. The majority were middle-aged women without type 2 diabetes who had undergone Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Thirty-nine patients (65%) completed a biochemical assessment for hypoglycemia episodes. Six (10%) had confirmed hypoglycemia by Whipple’s triad, and four (6.7%) met the criteria for post-bariatric surgery hypoglycemia based on clinical and biochemical criteria. All patients were recommended dietary modification as the initial line of treatment, and this intervention resulted in most patients reporting at least some improvement in their symptoms. Eight patients (13%) were prescribed pharmacotherapy, and two patients required additional interventions for symptom control.
In our experience, evaluation for hypoglycemia-related symptoms after bariatric surgery was rare. Hypoglycemia was confirmed in the minority of patients. Even without establishing a diagnosis of hypoglycemia, dietary changes were a helpful strategy for symptom management for most patients.
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Body mass index
Post-gastric bypass surgery hypoglycemia
Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
Total body weight loss
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Conflict of Interest
Andres Acosta is a stockholder in Gila Therapeutics, Phenomix Sciences; he served as a consultant for Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, General Mills. Lizeth Cifuentes, Maria D. Hurtado, Tiffany M. Cortes, Kristen Gonzales, Meera Shah, and Maria L. Collazo-Clavell declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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• Post-bariatric surgery hypoglycemia is a rare post-surgical complication.
• Biochemical confirmation of post-bariatric surgery hypoglycemia is challenging in clinical practice.
• Dietary changes are a helpful strategy to manage symptoms in most patients; pharmacotherapy is reserved for cases that do not respond to dietary modification.
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Cifuentes, L., Hurtado, M.D., Cortes, T.M. et al. Evaluation and Management of Patients Referred for Post-Bariatric Surgery Hypoglycemia at a Tertiary Care Center. OBES SURG 32, 1578–1585 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11695-022-05986-1