Dr. Moataz Bashah with some of the speakers and participants at the summit
Almost 30 percent of bariatric surgeries conducted at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) are revision weight loss surgery, it was revealed during the second Qatar International Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Summit (QIMBSS) held recently at HMC’s Hajar Auditorium.
More than 200 healthcare professionals gathered at the event where international and local experts discussed the latest developments and techniques in the management of revisional and complicated bariatric surgeries.
Over 30 percent of the Qatari population are morbidly obese; a serious health condition that can lead to early death. Bariatric surgery, a treatment that involves operating on the stomach and/or intestines, is an option for obese people who are unable to lose weight by other means or have serious obesity-related health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, the long-term success of this procedure also depends largely on the commitment of the patient to the prescribed post-operative medication, diet and exercise regime.
Dr. Moataz Bashah, HMC’s Director of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and the summit director said: “The increase in demand for revision surgery is due to two reasons. The first reason is because of patients who are not committed to proper diet and lifestyle changes after their initial weight loss surgery, and so start having problems again. The second reason is because many patients have previously undergone weight loss surgery in centers that have low professional standards, so they end up having complications.”
However, Dr. Bashah observed that there is increasing public awareness of the need for a healthy lifestyle to combat obesity and its related health complications. “We find more people nowadays who are committed to losing weight, choosing healthier foods and getting more physical exercise. We strive to raise awareness through different avenues, including reaching out to schools and universities to educate people on the health risks of obesity and I think the message is getting through to many people.”
The QIMBSS program featured eight types of bariatric surgery techniques including the Stretta procedure, a unique endoscopic surgery used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that significantly reduces symptoms and improves quality of life for patients. About 600 of over 2,000 HMC patients who have undergone bariatric surgery have GERD (also known as acid reflux), a condition in which the stomach contents leak backwards into the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms.
The Stretta procedure has so far been successfully used on three patients at HMC with severe symptoms that have not responded to medication. Stretta is a minimally invasive operation that involves inserting a flexible, disposable catheter into the patient’s esophagus to deliver controlled radiofrequency energy to strengthen the muscle fibers at the junction of the esophagus and stomach. This technique provides an alternative to traditional surgery which is more invasive.
“There is significant interest in these procedures and some of the most eminent surgeons worldwide took part in the summit,” said Dr. Bashah. He added that there are plans to hold a bigger conference next year in collaboration with the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), which will be the first of its kind for ASMBS outside the US and is an indication of how the world-class program at HMC is gaining recognition internationally.