Limitations of the 2015–2021 Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program database for emergency bariatric operations

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Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases


Background: The Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Quality Improvement Project (MBSAQIP) is the largest bariatric surgery–specific clinical data set. Objectives: In 2020, the definition of emergency cases was altered to include only revisional or conversion cases and not primary cases. The aim of this study was to examine how this change affects the utility of the data set for emergency case tracking. Setting: MBSAQIP database. Methods: Emergency cases were extracted from available MBSAQIP data (2015–2021). A comparison of co-morbidity profiles was done, specifically before and after the recent change to how “emergency” is defined in the data set. Results: Eleven thousand and twenty-nine of the 1,048,575 total cases were coded as “emergency cases.” From 2015 to 2019, 10,574 emergency cases were performed (∼2115 cases/yr), markedly decreasing in 2020 and 2021 to 455 cases (∼228 cases/yr). Before 2020, the most common procedures were the unlisted procedure of the stomach (45.14%, n = 3101), gastric band removal (25.3%, n = 2676), and reduction of internal hernia (11.8%, n = 1244). Between 2020 and 2021, this distribution changed with Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB), the most common emergency procedure (29.23%, n = 133). As expected from the change that captured only revisional cases, the average operative length was greater between 2020 and 2021 (127.6 versus 86.5 min). Conclusions: Capturable emergency cases declined in 2020, a trend related to changing the definition of emergency as part of MBSAQIP standards. This change excludes data on internal hernia reduction and does not likely reflect a real change in the prevalence of emergency bariatric cases. Because capture for emergency cases has diminished, so has any prior utility of using MBSAQIP data for studying emergency cases.

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