How Bariatric Surgery Led to the Cause of Lisa Marie Presley’s Death

Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of the legendary rock ‘n’ roll singer Elvis Presley, died on January 12, 2023, at the age of 54. The cause of her death was revealed by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner as a complication from a small bowel obstruction, which was a result of a weight-loss surgery she had undergone several years ago. This article will explain what a small bowel obstruction is, how it can be caused by bariatric surgery, and what are the signs and symptoms of this condition.

What is a Small Bowel Obstruction?

A small bowel obstruction is a blockage in the small intestine, which is the part of the digestive system that absorbs nutrients from food. The blockage can prevent food and fluids from passing through, causing abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and constipation. If left untreated, a small bowel obstruction can lead to serious complications, such as infection, tissue death, or perforation of the intestine. According to Mayo Clinic, some of the common causes of a small bowel obstruction are:

  • Adhesions: Scar tissue that forms after surgeries or infections can stick to the intestine and create a blockage.
  • Hernia: A hernia occurs when a part of the intestine bulges through a weak spot in the abdominal wall. This can cause the intestine to twist or compress, leading to an obstruction.
  • Cancer: Tumors that grow in or near the small intestine can obstruct the passage of food and fluids. Cancer can also spread to the lymph nodes and cause swelling that blocks the intestine.
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases: Conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can cause inflammation and narrowing of the intestine, making it more prone to obstruction.

How Can Bariatric Surgery Cause a Small Bowel Obstruction?

Bariatric surgery is a type of weight-loss surgery that alters the digestive system to help people lose weight. There are different types of bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, or gastric banding. These surgeries work by reducing the size of the stomach, rerouting the intestine, or placing a device around the stomach to limit food intake.

According to CNN, Lisa Marie Presley had undergone bariatric surgery several years ago. The autopsy report stated that her small bowel obstruction was caused by adhesions that developed after the surgery. This is a known long-term complication of this type of surgery, as scar tissue can form in the abdomen and attach to the intestine. The report also noted that Presley had therapeutic levels of oxycodone, quetapine metabolite, and buprenorphine in her blood at the time of her death. These medications may have slowed down the movement of the intestine and made it more likely for it to get obstructed by the adhesions.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Small Bowel Obstruction?

A small bowel obstruction can cause severe abdominal pain that comes and goes in waves. The pain may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. Some people may also experience fever, dehydration, or blood in their stool. A small bowel obstruction can be diagnosed by physical examination, blood tests, X-rays, or CT scans.

A small bowel obstruction is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Depending on the cause and severity of the obstruction, treatment options may include:

  • Medications: Drugs such as antibiotics, painkillers, or anti-inflammatory agents may be given to treat infection, inflammation, or pain.
  • Fluids and electrolytes: Intravenous fluids and electrolytes may be administered to prevent dehydration and restore balance in the body.
  • Nasogastric tube: A tube may be inserted through the nose and into the stomach to decompress the stomach and relieve pressure on the intestine.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be performed to remove or bypass the blockage, repair any damage to the intestine, or remove any scar tissue or tumors.


Lisa Marie Presley’s death was a tragic outcome of a rare but serious complication from bariatric surgery. A small bowel obstruction can be caused by various factors, including scar tissue from previous surgeries. It can cause intense abdominal pain and other symptoms that require prompt medical attention. If you have had bariatric surgery or any other abdominal surgery in the past, you should be aware of the risk of developing a small bowel obstruction and seek help if you experience any signs or symptoms of this condition.

Doms Desk

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