Prevalence and predictors of postoperative thiamine deficiency after vertical sleeve gastrectomy

Liyang Tang, Hatim A. Alsulaim, Joseph K. Canner, Gregory P Prokopowicz, Kimberley Steele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: As the vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) becomes increasingly popular, its effect on postoperative micronutrient levels, such as thiamine, becomes more important. We previously found a 1.8% prevalence of thiamine deficiency in bariatric patients before surgery. Objective: The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of thiamine deficiency at our center after VSG and to explore possible predictors of postoperative thiamine levels. Setting: University hospital, United States. Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed on 147 bariatric patients between 18- and 65-years old who underwent VSG between April 2011 and February 2015. Demographic characteristics, preoperative body mass index (BMI), obesity-associated co-morbidities, alcohol intake, smoking habits, insurance type, calendar year of the procedure, occurrence of postoperative complications, and compliance with postoperative nutrition and follow-up appointment guidelines were extracted from clinical charts. We defined thiamine deficiency as<78 nM on any lab draw within 1 year after the VSG. The χ2, Fisher exact, and Mann-Whitney U tests, and multivariate logistic regression models were created to analyze the association of the above factors with thiamine deficiency after a VSG. Results: Of 147 patients, 105 met inclusion criteria and were analyzed, of whom 27 (25.7%) had thiamine deficiency. Overall median age was 42 years (interquartile ratio: 36, 49). The majority of patients were either African Americans or Caucasian (47.6% and 44.8%, respectively), female (77.1%), and compliant with vitamins (81.0%). The overall mean preoperative BMI was 46.4 kg/m2. Patients with thiamine deficiency were more likely to be African American (66.7%, P = .024), have a larger preoperative BMI (P = .026), and to report repetitive episodes of nausea (59.3%, P = .002) and vomiting (44.4%, P = .001) at any of their postoperative appointments within 1 year after surgery. Compliance with vitamins did not differ between those with or without thiamine deficiency (70.4%, 84.6%, P = .10). After controlling for all factors, African American race (odds ratio [OR] 3.9, P = .019), higher preoperative BMI (OR 1.13, P = .001), nausea (OR 3.81, P = .02), and vomiting (OR 3.49, P = .032) were independent risk factors for the development of thiamine deficiency. Conclusions: We found an alarmingly high prevalence of thiamine deficiency in postoperative SG patients. This disorder may have serious consequences including Wernicke encephalopathy; hence, it is important to identify predictive demographic, postoperative, and behavioral factors so that appropriate measures can be taken to prevent thiamine deficiency in VSG patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Bariatric surgery
  • Post-operative complications
  • Thiamine
  • Vertical sleeve gastrectomy
  • Vitamin deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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