Background: There is a world epidemic of overweight, obesity, and morbid obesity, encompassing 1.7 billion people. Bariatric surgery today is the only effective therapy for morbid obesity. Methods: E-mail requests for information were sent to the presidents of the national societies of the 31 International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity (IFSO) nations, or national groupings, plus Sweden. Responses were tabulated; calculation of relative prevalence of specific procedures was done by weighted averages. Results: Responders were 26 of 32 (81%) for the general questions and 24 of 32 (75%) for the question on specific operative percentages. In the year 2002-2003, 146,301 bariatric surgery operations were performed by 2,839 bariatric surgeons; 103,000 of these operations were performed in USA/Canada by 850 surgeons. The earliest start date for bariatric surgery was 1953 in the USA; IFSO was founded in 1995. In the year 2002-2003, 37.15% of operations were open; 62.85% laparoscopic. The 6 most popular procedures by weighted averages were: laparoscopic gastric bypass, 25.67%; laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, 24.14%; open gastric bypass, 23.07%; laparoscopic long-limb gastric bypass, 8.9%; open long-limb gastric bypass, 7.45%; and open vertical banded gastroplasty, 4.25%. Pooling open and laparoscopic procedures, relative percentages were: gastric bypass, 65.11%; gastric banding, 24.41%; vertical banded gastroplasty, 5.43%; and biliopancreatic diversion/duodenal switch, 4.85%. Categorizing into restrictive/malabsorptive, purely restrictive, and primarily malabsorptive, the relative distribution of procedures was 65.11%, 29.84%, and 4.85%, respectively. The number of countries performing gastric banding was 23 (95%), gastric bypass 21 (88%), vertical banded gastroplasty 19 (79%), and biliopancreatic diversion/duodenal switch 16 (67%). Purely restrictive procedures were performed in 24 (100%) of the countries, restrictive/malabsorptive in 21 (88%), and primarily malabsorptive in 18 (75%). Conclusions: Bariatric surgery is expanding exponentially to meet the global epidemic of morbid obesity. Operative procedures in bariatric surgery are in flux and specific geographic trends and shifts are evident. Yet, of the patients qualifying for surgery, only about 1% are receiving this therapy – the only effective treatment currently available.
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