American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) calls for safe resumption of bariatric and metabolic surgery before COVID-19 pandemic is declared over
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) has declared metabolic and bariatric surgery "medically necessary and the best treatment for those with the life-threatening and life-limiting disease of severe obesity" and called for the safe and rapid resumption of procedures, which have been largely postponed along with other surgeries deemed elective amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a new position statement entitled, ‘Safer through surgery: American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery statement regarding metabolic and bariatric surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic’, published online in the journal SOARD, the ASMBS strongly rejects classifying metabolic and bariatric surgery as "elective" and prefers the use of the term "Medically Necessary Time-Sensitive Surgery" or "Medically Necessary Non-Emergent Surgery" to better characterise the effectiveness of the intervention and the progressive nature of the many diseases it treats including obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
“However, delay in the life-saving surgical treatment of obesity and its complications for many months or years is not in the best interest of our patients,” the statement reads. “COVID-19 is the most recent of many diseases in which underlying obesity worsens the prognosis.”
Obesity has been identified as an independent risk factor for adverse outcomes including death among COVID-19 patients.
"COVID-19 may be a factor for quite some time and the longer the treatment of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other related diseases are postponed, the greater the chance they will become worse," said Dr Matthew M Hutter, president of the ASMBS and professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. "Each state, doctor and patient must make a decision as to when conditions for metabolic and bariatric surgery are right, but the sooner it can be safely performed, the more quickly obesity, type 2 diabetes and other diseases can be reduced or resolved."
The ASMBS recommends that the precise timing for surgery be carefully considered based on factors including an individual patient's health status, local prevalence of COVID-19 and the availability of resources including hospital beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE).
The ASMBS statement concludes, "Before COVID-19 began, it was clear that patients with obesity were 'safer through surgery'. In the era of COVID-19, 'safer through surgery' for patients with obesity may prove to be even more important than before."
To access the statement, please click here