Assessment of postoperative nausea and vomiting after bariatric surgery using a validated questionnaire

Bradley S. Kushner, Dawn Freeman, Jayme Sparkman, Arghavan Salles, J. Christopher Eagon, Shaina R. Eckhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) is known to occur after bariatric surgery, with over two thirds of patients affected. However, variability exists in how to objectively measure PONV. Objectives: The goals of the present study were to use a validated, patient-centered scoring tool, the Rhodes Index of Nausea, Vomiting, and Retching to measure the severity of PONV after bariatric surgery, to directly compare PONV between patients who underwent laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG) and laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (LRYGB), and to identify risk factors for the development of PONV after bariatric surgery. Setting: Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America. Methods: The Washington University Weight Loss Surgery team prospectively surveyed patients from January 1, 2017 to December 1, 2018 at the following 6 different timepoints: postoperative day (POD) 0, POD 1, POD 2, POD 3 to 4, the first postoperative outpatient visit (POV 1: POD 5–25), and the second postoperative visit (POV 2: POD 25–50). At each timepoint, a cumulative Rhodes score was calculated from the sum of 8 questions. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program database was used to collect patient demographic characteristics and perioperative clinical data. Results: A total of 274 patients met study criteria and completed 605 Rhodes questionnaires. Two hundred fifty Rhodes questionnaires were completed by patients after SG and 355 were completed by patients after LRYGB. Total Rhodes scores are statistically higher in LSG patients compared with patients who underwent LRYGB (LSG = 5.45 ± 6.27; LRYGB = 3.08 ± 4.19, P =.0002). Additionally, at the earlier timepoints, scores were higher among patients who underwent LSG than those who had undergone LRYGB as follows: POD 0 (LSG = 6.96 ± 6.50; LRYGB = 2.89 ± 2.90, P =.0115), POD 1 (LSG = 8.20 ± 6.76; LRYGB = 2.88 ± 3.44, P <.0001), and POD 2 (LSG = 4.05 ± 4.88; LRYGB = 2.06 ± 3.43, P =.05). On subset analysis, examining patients who either underwent an LSG or LRYGB, both procedures had a statistically significant PONV peak emerge on POV 2. Last, overall Rhodes scores were statistically higher in female patients compared with male patients (female: 4.43 ± 5.46; male: 2.35 ± 3.90, P =.021). Although the magnitude of the difference varied somewhat across POD time intervals, the difference was most pronounced at POV 2. Conclusions: This is the largest study using a validated nausea and vomiting questionnaire to objectively measure PONV after bariatric surgery. The factors found to be most associated with increased PONV were LSG and female sex. Ultimately, these data can help bariatric surgery programs, including Washington University Weight Loss Surgery, identify patients who may require more intensive treatment of PONV, particularly POD 0 to 2, and help to identify patients that continue to struggle with PONV in the later surgical recovery phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1505-1513
Number of pages9
JournalSurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy
  • Obesity surgery
  • Postoperative nausea and vomiting
  • Rhodes Index of Nausea
  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
  • Vomiting
  • and Retching


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