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Weight Loss Surgery Linked to Severe Headaches

Update Date: Oct 22, 2014 05:04 PM EDT
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Weight loss surgery could lead to severe headaches, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed the link between gastric bypass surgery (gastric banding surgery) and spontaneous intracranial hypotension, which can trigger sudden headaches when standing. The condition is caused by low pressure of the spinal fluid, which can leak from the spinal canal. Some side effects associated with the condition include nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness and concentration problems.

"It's important for people who have had bariatric surgery and their doctors to be aware of this possible link, which has not been reported before," study author Dr. Wouter I. Schievink, MD, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said in a news release. "This could be the cause of sudden, severe headaches that can be treated effectively, but there can be serious consequences if misdiagnosed."

The study involved 338 people with spontaneous intracranial hypotension and 245 healthy people with unruptured intracranial aneurysms. The findings revealed that 3.3 percent of people with spontaneous intracranial hypotension had previously undergone bariatric surgery compared to 0.8 percent of healthy control participants.

"While more research is needed to understand the relationship between body weight and spinal pressure, it's possible that the loss of fat tissue may uncover a susceptibility to spontaneous intracranial hypotension," Schievink said.

The findings were published in the Oct. 22 online in the journal Neurology.

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