BACKGROUND: Obesity is known to be associated with postoperative morbidity in gastric cancer surgery, but its impact on laparoscopy assisted gastrectomy (LAG) for gastric cancer has rarely been evaluated. METHODS: The clinical data for 1,485 LAG procedures for gastric cancer in 10 institutions were reviewed. The patients were divided into high body mass index (BMI) (BMI > or = 25 kg/m(2); n = 432) and low BMI (BMI <25 kg/m(2); n = 1,053) groups, and their clinical outcomes were compared. RESULTS: The mean age and proportion of comorbid patients were higher in the high BMI group than in the low BMI group. Postoperative morbidity and mortality did not differ between the high BMI (15.7% and 0.9%) and low BMI (14% and 0.5%) groups (p = 0.37 and p = 0.29). Only the operation time and the number of retrieved lymph nodes were significantly different between the high BMI (242.5 min and 30.4) and low BMI (223.7 min and 32.6) groups (p < 0.001 and p = 0.005), especially for male patients undergoing surgery by surgeons who have performed 40 or fewer LAGs. CONCLUSIONS: High BMI itself may not increase operative morbidity after LAG for gastric cancer. However, when a surgeon is relatively inexperienced with LAG, a careful approach is required for male patients with a high BMI.
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