A controlled study of peripheral neuropathy after bariatric surgery

P. Thaisetthawatkul, M. L. Collazo-Clavell, M. G. Sarr, J. E. Norell, P. J.B. Dyck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


Background: Although peripheral neuropathy (PN) occurs after bariatric surgery (BS), a causal association has not been established. Objectives: To ascertain whether PN occurs more frequently following BS vs another abdominal surgery, to characterize the clinical patterns of PN, to identify risk factors for PN, and to assess if nerve biopsy provides pathophysiologic insight. Methods: Retrospective review identified patients with PN after BS. The frequency of PN was compared with that of an age- and gender-matched, retrospectively evaluated cohort of obese patients undergoing cholecystectomy. Results: Of 435 patients who had BS, 71 (16%) developed PN. Patients developed PN more often after BS than after cholecystectomy (4/126; 3%) (p < 0.001). The clinical patterns of PN were polyneuropathy (n = 27), mononeuropathy (n = 39), and radiculoplexus neuropathy (n = 5). Risk factors included rate and absolute amount of weight loss, prolonged gastrointestinal symptoms, not attending a nutritional clinic after BS, reduced serum albumin and transferrin after BS, postoperative surgical complications requiring hospitalization, and having jejunoileal bypass. Most risk factors were associated with the polyneuropathy group. Sural nerve biopsies showed prominent axonal degeneration and perivascular inflammation. Conclusions: Peripheral neuropathy (PN) occurs more frequently after bariatric surgery (BS) than after another abdominal surgery. The three clinical patterns of PN after BS are sensory-predominant polyneuropathy, mononeuropathy, and radiculoplexus neuropathy. Malnutrition may be the most important risk factor, and patients should attend nutritional clinics. Inflammation and altered immunity may play a role in the pathogenesis, but further study is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1462-1470
Number of pages9
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 26 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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