Office Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00am - 5:00pm

Category: GRDS

PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS

September 04, 2018 9:58 am

PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS is a complex condition. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown however, it involves hormones imbalance and multiple ovarian cysts, irregular menses, and infertility.  In some cases, PCOS can be compounded by diabetes, hypertension and other metabolic conditions. PCOS has been shown to effect approximately 10% of women of childbearing age with symptoms of menstrual abnormalities, poly cystic ovaries, and excess androgen (male sex hormone). PCOS should be diagnosed by ensuring there are no other underlying endocrine issues. There are several associated disease processes that seem to be related to PCOS. These related disease processes are Type 2 Diabetes, higher depression and anxiety, increased cardiovascular risks, stroke, hyperlipidemia, sleep apnea, overall inflammation, and endometrial cancer.

Anatomically, numerous cysts are found on the ovaries. These are usually diagnosed by ultrasound, blood levels of hormones, and symptoms described above.

Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome
Examples of Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome

Bariatric Surgery and PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS

Bariatric Surgery can improve PCOS in those individuals with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Further information on weight loss surgery and its effect on PCOS here. 

Parathyroid Scan

July 09, 2018 11:48 am

A Parathyroid scan or Sestamibi scan may be needed if the typical weight loss surgical reasons for elevated PTH levels have been addressed. Sestamibi is a small protein which is labeled with the radio-pharmaceutical technetium-99. This very mild and safe radioactive agent is injected into the veins of a patient with overactive parathyroid and is absorbed by the overactive parathyroid gland. If the parathyroid is normal it will not absorb the agent. The scan below shows the uptake of the agent.

Calcium, Vitamin D and Parathyroid hormone are routinely measured on yearly follow up for most post weight loss surgical (WLS) patients. Elevated parathyroid hormone (PTH) may be caused by Vitamin D deficiency or calcium deficiency (most common in post WLS) or by over active parathyroid gland(s). In the latter case, if one of the four glands  is overactive then this is knows as a parathyroid Adenoma. If all 4 are over active and are secreting too much PTH, this is known as hyperplasia. Ultrasound of the neck, may identify an enraged parathyroid gland (adenoma) which is located behind the thyroid gland. Given the large area where the parathyroid gland may be located, additional tests are needed to not only identify the location of the gland(s) but also to distinguish between single gland (adenoma) or multiple glands (hyperplasia) cause for the elevated PTH. It is important to investigate all avenues and testing in parathyroid hormone elevation and in some cases, not to rely on one test for your diagnosis.  It is also imperative that weight loss surgical patients take their supplements routinely and consistently and have their laboratory studies followed at least yearly.

Informative Video on Vitamin D: here

 

Calcium Lab Results

June 05, 2018 3:26 pm

Calcium is measured to evaluate function and adequacy of a physiologic processes. Calcium plays a critical role in several body functions such as, coagulation pathways, bone health, nerve conduction, and other functions. It is important whenever you are evaluating laboratory results that you look at the whole picture of the person, including medications, other laboratory studies and health history.  One value is not a stand alone result.  There are many factors that effect calcium results.

Factors that effect calcium results: (not an all inclusive list)

pH

Albumin

Lactate

Heparin

Vitamin D deficiency

Magnesium depletion

Anticonvulsants

Renal Disease

Pancreatitis

Parathyroid

Thyroid

The two most common issues following Weight loss Surgery  or Duodenal Switch may be albumin level and Vitamin D level.  Please see past blogs on Vitamin D. Magnesium may also play a role in a Duodenal Switch patient.

The most common calcium result drawn is the total calcium level. Laboratory results may not explicitly label it as such, however, it measures the calcium that is bound to protein. Ionized calcium is the free calcium that is representative of the true total calcium. Ionized Calcium can be measured by ordering specific lab. Alternatively, the Ionized calcium can be calculated by the following formula: Corrected calcium mg/dL = (0.8 * (Normal Albumin – Pt’s Albumin)) + Serum Ca  ) or use the calculator at the bottom of this post.

 

The low Albumin level accounts for the low calcium level. This may be the reason for a patient with a low albumin/protein level, also having their calcium level reported as low. However, when adjusted for the protein deficiency the corrected calcium comes into normal range. Video of Trouseau’s sign of a patient with calcium deficiency. Calcium bound to albumin Keshishian

The first step in a patient who has low calcium reported, is to make sure their protein and albumin levels are normal, along with Vitamin D.

Calcium levels are managed by two processes major regularly hormones and  influencing hormones. Controlling or major regulatory hormones include PTH, calcitonin, and vitamin D. In the kidney, vitamin D and PTH stimulate the activity of the epithelial calcium channel and the calcium-binding protein (ie, calbindin) to increase calcium absorption. Influencing hormones include thyroid hormones, growth hormone, and adrenal and gonadal steroids.

Further information on protein.

Further information on calcium. 

Videos/Webinars on several of the above topics.

calcium metabolism
Duodenal Calcium Metabolism

Corrected calcium = 0.8 * (4.0 – serum albumin) + serum calcium

Corrected Calcium Level Calculator

Compounding Pharmacies

January 22, 2018 2:38 pm

New FDA regulations for compounding pharmacies has spurred changes in our pricing and ability to provide injectable Vitamin A and Vitamin D.  The compounding pharmacies are no longer compounding injectable Vitamin A and there is a nationwide shortage of the national brand of injectable Vitamin A.  We have a tentative date of February 2018 when we may be able to obtain injectable Vitamin A. We won’t be able to quote pricing on Vitamin A injections until we are able to orders.

We are able to obtain and supply our patients with injectable Vitamin D but with a price increase.

The following is the letter we received from our compounding pharmacy.

“The healthcare industry has continuously undergone changes in regulations and legislation. The compounding industry is no exception and has faced rigorous regulatory requirements this past year such as new testing specifications and compliance standards.

We are set on facing these demanding challenges by meeting and exceeding these new regulatory requirements. We want to assure you we will continue to provide the best products on the market for you and your patients. Quality and safety remain a top priority. We understand that our pharmacy plays a vital role in providing care to your patients. The increase in pricing is a reflection of the additional cost in producing and testing the product based on regulatory specifications.”

Vitamin A injections

October 25, 2017 10:31 am

Unfortunately, we have been informed that the company we order our Vitamin A injectionsVitamin A injections from will no longer have Vitamin A available.  We have contacted several other companies and they also do not have it available.  The manufacturer of Vitamin A states that there is a nationwide shortage of injectable Vitamin A and it may be available next year.

Our office has a few vials left and we are hoping that we can get to as many people as possible before we are completely out.  We will continue to look for a source of Vitamin A injections. We will let you know when it is no longer available and when we receive a new shipment.   Thank you for your understanding and we apologize for this issue.
Information on Vitamin A deficiency here.
You can find our list of recommended supplements here.

Just as a reminder, we have no financial interest in any of the vendors that are recommended on our website. Also, please note that this is not in ANY form or fashion a substitute for the evaluation by your surgeon or primary care physician.  This is informational only and is not to be taken as a recommendation for any patients’ condition.  

New Pasadena Office Map and Parking

August 12, 2017 8:35 am

We’ve created a helpful map and parking diagram for our new Pasadena, CA office location.  It also has a general layout of the Huntington Memorial Hospital Campus and Pre-operative intake and testing area.  We hope that you find it helpful on your next visit to see Dr. Ara Keshishian, General and Bariatric Surgeon.   Map and Parking Dr. Keshishian's office Dr. Ara Keshishian has performed more than 2,000 Duodenal Switch procedures, thousands of Sleeve Gastrectomies and more than 500 revisions from other Weight Loss Surgeries such as RNY Gastric Bypass, Adjustable Gastric Band, and Sleeve Gastrectomy to Duodenal Switch as well as General Surgical cases over the last 18 years of private practice.

Insurance Appeals And Denials

August 07, 2017 7:08 am

Whenever you are dealing with insurance issues it is important to have a general understanding of insurance ins and outs. The Obesity Action Coalition has a good general guide to the insurance process here.  If you are having issues with out of network, out of area, or insurance appeals and denials for Duodenal Switch, there may be some additional assistance from two individuals who have had the Duodenal Switch procedure themselves. We are grateful that they have provided assistance throughout the years to the Duodenal Switch community. The following is their statement on insurance.

The majority of insurance companies are in the business of making money (for profit). They can deny requests for preauthorization with impunity. These denials are often complexly worded and difficult to comply with and overcome, and are definitely overwhelming to the patient, and the busy surgeon’s office. The vast majority of patients faced with demanding if not impossible to achieve prerequisites, or denial of the request for preauthorization simply give up, and the insurance companies pocket the savings.

If you find yourself  facing impossible pre-op hurdles, or a denial, we urge you to appeal, and to seek assistance in preparing the appeal. You can hire an attorney, of course, but there is an informal and free resource we suggest that you investigate as well.

If you go to BariatricFacts.org (a non-profit, patient-run site), you will find individuals who are long-term DS postops, and patient advocates.  They have been helping patients, pro bono (for free), for over 10 years. They will help you draft your appeal letters, provide supporting medical and legal documentation, and prepare draft letters of medical necessity to be reviewed and signed by your surgeon supporting your appeal. They will not represent you directly, but they will help you best represent yourself.  in many cases it is necessary to exhaust all internal appeals (because the insurance companies are unlikely to overrule themselves), and then file for external review, where independent reviewers often overrule improper denials. If you join and then post on BariatricFacts.org asking for help, you will be connected with them and you can decide if you want their help.

Please note that this is just a suggestion. It is neither legal nor medical advice, nor a guaranty regarding their services, and you should always consider getting legal advice and assistance from an attorney who will represent you directly. The members at BariatricsFacts.org will help you draft your own letters, but will not be your legal or medical representatives; you will be required to do a fair amount of your own work on your appeals, and to sign them yourself.

It is suggested that before or at the same time as you contact the resources suggested at the site, you gather as much of the following information as you can:

  • A copy of your Evidence of Coverage, which is the usually 100+ page insurance contract between your employer and the insurance company, which  you can obtain it from your HR department. If you are self-insured, it will be available directly from your insurance company. Note: it is NOT the Summary of Benefits – it needs to be the contract itself.
  • If your insurance is through an employer, you need to determine whether your plan is self-funded or fully-funded. Your rights are significantly different under the two types of plans.
  • If your insurance company has a separate bariatric surgery policy, provide a copy of that, too.
  • A copy of your surgeon’s request for preauthorization, which provides the ICD-10 and CPT codes submitted.
  • A copy of your denial letter, including the section regarding your appeal rights.

*      It is strongly recommended that you obtain a copy of your surgeon’s LOMN (letter of medical necessity) before it is submitted to your insurer or for external review, so we can assist your busy surgeon in making the strongest possible case for you.

Don’t be deterred by a denial. It is unfortunately more common than it should be, but it can often be overcome if you meet the requirements for bariatric surgery, if you get help navigating the process.

Shared Success Story- Theresa & Rodney (Duodenal Switch)

August 05, 2017 8:41 am

LIFE BEFORE AND AFTER DUODENAL SWITCH SURGERY
Life before surgery seems like a lifetime ago for both my wife and I. Being extremely overweight is not only a burden on your general health but a burden on your lifestyle in general. You have the awful label of being called obese, or morbidly obese. This is such a wonderful word that makes you feel as if you have been judged a misfit in society. We were both overweight all of our lives and had done all of the diets known on the planet throughout the years. Some worked a little some not at all and we always found ourselves back to where we were before and usually larger than that. The main focus though as we were getting older was our health. For Theresa it was very difficult. Along with being over 400 pounds she had a severe case of asthma which caused her episodes where she felt she was going to suffocate. She also had very little muscle mass which made it very difficult to get up and down from seating or lying positions. Theresa had her surgery in February of 2014 and not a moment too soon. If she had done nothing it is a good chance that she was facing a horribly short future. She also has a slight heart murmur which did not bode well for a person with her weight. She did not have diabetes thank goodness but her A1C was on the rise as was her BP. She did have sleep apnea as well and had to have a CPAP machine.

I was also severely overweight, my highest weight was nearly 400 pounds and on surgery day I was 355 pounds. I was also under the illusion that I had more control over my weight and that once Theresa had her surgery I would just be able to diet and exercise my way to a healthy weight. I was able to do this in my younger years to a certain extent and I was naive enough

Theresa & Rodney Before

to think I could continue to do so. How wrong I was. I had found that no matter how much diet and exercise I did my weight would drop a bit at first but then stall and I would have to essentially starve to lose any more and of course that just makes for a bad outcome. My A1C shot up to 7.6 and this was with 1000mg of metformin a day! My BP was very high with both numbers over 100, well over. This is with a high dose of BP meds. I had a severe case of sleep apnea and could not even consider sleeping without a CPAP machine with a high pressure. I have an artificial hip that was being burdened by my 350 pound plus frame and would probably need to be replaced sooner rather than later. My future was not looking good. Dying before I was 60 seemed like a reality for me and that is not the future I was hoping for. The decision to have weight loss surgery for the both of us was tough. You of course hear the nay sayers spout what a cop out it is and it’s the easy way out! You are just weak and just simply need to not eat hamburgers, French fries and donuts. Just stick with non-fat and low calories and you will reach the promised land. What a load of BS.

 

Once you wrap your head around the fact that your body is wired in such a way that it will always seek a higher weight every time you lose weight, it’s time to consider the type of surgery. Everyone has heard of the Gastric bypass and that seemed to be the path at the time of Theresa’s surgery. The thing about Theresa and what I admire very much is her persistence and her ability to research to the point where a decision is spot on. She looked at all of the four possible surgeries and quickly realized that the Duodenal Switch was a no brainer. It had the greatest measure of success in the long term as well as short term. Reading about the process and talking to others who have had the surgery it became clear that it was the right choice. Finding out where to go and have the surgery was a real challenge. We were lucky to find Dr. Ara Keshishian and have the ability to travel to his location to have the surgery.

Theresa’s Stats                                                       Rodney’s Stats

Surgery Weight: 410                                                                     Surgery Weight: 355 Pounds

Total Weight Loss: 215 pounds                                                  Total Weight Loss: 170 Pounds

Surgery Type: Duodenal Switch                                                Surgery Type: Duodenal Switch

Surgery Date: February 2014                                                     Surgery Data: May 2016

Surgeon: Dr. Ara Keshishian                                                      Surgeon: Dr. Ara Keshishian

Life after surgery is an amazing series of challenges, changes, and a journey that transforms your life in a huge way. For Theresa, it was freedom. Freedom from the overbearing weight she was carrying that kept her from essentially moving or doing anything but staying at home. We did very little outside of the house before surgery. Only the necessities of shopping and keeping up the house on the inside and out. Even that was difficult and went by the wayside all too often. Of course eating out was easier than going to the grocery store and that made the scale just go higher. After surgery, Theresa began to lose weight and you could see day by day the changes. After the first month, you could see a dramatic change not only in her look but the fact that she was moving again! She had dropped 35 pounds in that first month and it made a huge difference. As the weight kept coming off over the next few months we began doing things we have not done before. We started to do a lot of walking and a lot more things around the house that needed to be done. Shopping became a breeze and we ate out a lot less. The dramatic change was in her health. A number of changes for the better were happening on that front. The main one and a huge relief was the asthma. It simply was no longer there. She was no longer short on breath and was simply out moving me! I could barely keep up with her. She also had a bad case of psoriasis which before surgery she could do nothing about. Since the surgery it has disappeared. It might be due to the increased in vitamins, particularly the D vitamin. Her sleep apnea went away and now she is healthy and happy. It is almost difficult to describe the changes until you see them for yourself.  For Theresa it has been a life changing experience that has transformed the both of us in ways we never imagined. Theresa eats a normal diet and after 3 ½ years post op she fluctuates about 5 pounds either way. It is amazing.

Theresa & Rodney After

For me it was not what I expected. What I mean by that is, learning to eat is a challenge. With the Duodenal Switch you are not only eating less, but what you eat is tremendously important to the success of the transformation. With the other surgeries, Lap Band, Bypass and Sleeve you do not have the degree of malabsorption. You simply eat less and you lose weight, but you are still essentially “on a diet”. With the Duodenal Switch you have to consider the malabsorption and think protein first and for most. Once you get past the first month of eating small amounts and what you can while your innards heal you need to learn what to eat and is it enough protein. You may also have to contending with the fact that you have an aversion to foods you ate before. I, for one, could not even eat cheese, and chicken. I pretty much lived on scallops, crab, shrimp and protein drinks for the first three months. Nuts were also a good source of the protein when you get to that stage. This does change and things do go back to normal as far as the taste changes, but it takes a few months. The weight in that first month pretty much peeled off. I was dropping like a pound a day. It was incredible. You think that this is going to be a breeze and you will drop it all in no time! Then that 4 week somewhat of a stall occurs. From what I can tell, everyone experiences it in one form or another. It freaks you out because you start to think about the past where you would work your butt off and either gain or drop and ounce or two.  But I was lucky, my wife had gone though it two years before me so she was there to explain that it was normal. The whole “this is a journey thing”, and she was right! At the time though I was listening to the negative voice in my head from the past. That is where the support from the many groups come in. You see that pretty much everyone has the same ups and downs and then your body gives up the farm and you drop a bunch of weight in a weeks’ time. There is really a lot of science behind it. Researching and reading about this particular surgery and how it works will benefit you while you go through the process. Another important thing we face with this surgery is the necessity of Vitamins. Thank goodness for my wife and the DS groups and of course my surgeon. You will not be without knowledge if you actively join the different groups and do your research on the vitamins. I am still learning about what my body needs and am looking forward to my labs in the next month to see where I may be deficient. I have also come to realize the importance of drinking water and avoiding dehydration. I never used to drink it much before the Duodenal Switch, but since the surgery I find it aids heavily in the success if you drink it and drink a lot of it.

To conclude this has been a journey and one I wish I could have done a lot sooner in life, but it is never too late. Today Theresa and I are at weights that we are happy with and our bodies are happy with. We are more active then we have ever been before together. No more days idle in front of the television with large amounts of fast food and drinks. That is what we used to look forward too. Now we cannot wait until we go out and do something. We are not running marathons or anything but we are active and enjoy being so. We no longer have the ailments we had before surgery. Theresa’s asthma is practically nonexistent, living in the northwest with fires in the summer she may have a bout or two. Nothing even close to what she has before and a simple inhale and its gone. Both of us no longer need a CPAP! The freedom to simply lay your head on the pillow and sleep is amazing and wonderful. All of the medication we had prescribed for us are gone as well. My A1C was 5 on my last set of labs and 5.3 on the one before that. Theresa’s is the same and has been for three years. BP is normal and my hip is holding steady. Oh, and another cool thing about it is you can actually shop for clothes anywhere! Your sizes will shrink but we have found we have become quite the clothes horses since losing all this weight. It makes it fun to be able to fit into a size you haven’t seen since who knows when.

Life is always a challenge for many reasons but to remove the burden of the weight simplifies things just a bit. It is a decision we will never regret and wished we had made a long time ago. We both owe our lives firstly, to having Duodenal Switch surgery. Secondly, and most important – was in seeking out the best surgeon we could find, and that was without a doubt, Dr. Ara Keshishian. As a surgeon he is thorough, meticulous, constantly learning and keeping up on the latest research;as a person he is easy to talk to, very approachable, and genuinely cares about his patients before, during and after the surgery process. We could not imagine choosing anyone else.

Compounding Pharmacy

March 22, 2017 7:40 pm

We have received notice that the FDA and the compounding pharmacy have changed their regulations for several medications.  Unfortunately, this affects our office and Duodenal Switch patients in regards to injectable Vitamin D and Vitamin A. In the past, we have been able to have injectable Vitamin A and injectable Vitamin D in bulk in our office.  The new regulations require that a patient be assigned to the medication, so we will be unable to have it on hand in our office. This is out of  our hands and control.

We are requesting that if you are anticipating the need for injectable vitamins that you have your laboratory results in our office at least 3 weeks prior to your office visit.  This will give our staff adequate time to order your injectable vitamins to be available at your visit.

Injectable Vitamin D may be needed in some cases of Vitamin D deficiency or inability to increase Vitamin D level with oral supplements. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. It plays an important role in bone metabolism and structure. It has also been found to affect the immune regulation, control off- inflammatory reactions, and also be involved in a number of broad cellular functions throughout the body.

Research and information regarding Injectable Vitamin D.

Thank you for your understanding in this manner.

Standard Common Channel In Duodenal Switch Will Result In Weight Regain.

December 16, 2016 1:57 pm

Stéfane Lebel, M.D.*, Geneviève Dion, M.D., Simon Marceau, M.D., Simon Biron, M.D., M.Sc., Maud Robert, M.D., Laurent Biertho, M.D. earlier this year released a research article comparing patients undergoing standard common channel of 100cm and standard common channel 200cm. The conclusion of this article was: “In this population, BPD-DS with a 200-cm common channel offered similar remission rate of co-morbidities compared with standard BPD-DS. It was associated with similar weight loss at nadir, followed by a more significant weight regain. It might yield a lower rate of nutritional complications. Long-term randomized data are needed to detect other potential advantages.”

Our Experience:

One of the most dreaded outcomes of any weight loss surgical procedure is weight regain. This is assuming that initial adequate weight was lost to result in resolution of the co-morbidities in the first place.  As the weight loss surgical field has changed over the years so has been the cases of regain that we have seen.

There was a time when Lap bands were being revised for inadequate weight loss and weight regain. Not to mention the complications of reflux, difficulty swallowing and persistent Nausea and vomiting. Then as more Gastric bypass procedures “aged” the number of patients that started looking for revision for weight regain increased. The latest fad is the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy that are done with false sense of expectation and results. The long term outcome of Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy is no where close to that of the Duodenal Switch, independent of the size of the sleeve. In fact, more surgeons are trying to get a little more weight loss by making the sleeve too tight. All they are doing is creating a significant and debilitating set of problems such as reflux, nausea, and solid intolerance.

The ideal revisional procedure for these patients should be the Duodenal Switch. Some surgeons, however, have started advocating “single anastomosis” knock off the duodenal switch. Others do “standard length common channel” rather than a Hess method Duodenal Switch. I have always performed a traditional Hess method Duodenal Switch.  The Hess method Duodenal Switch has held the largest and longest excess weight loss maintenance for 28 years, going into 29 years.  Here is a past blog regarding small bowel length.

The predetermined standard common channel results in weight regain. Study