Lisa Marie Presley’s Autopsy Cause of Death: A Rare Complication of Weight-Loss Surgery

Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of the legendary rock ‘n’ roll singer Elvis Presley, died in January 2023 at the age of 54. Her death shocked and saddened her fans and family, who were still grieving the loss of her son Benjamin Keough, who committed suicide in 2020. The cause of her death was recently revealed by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s office, which stated that she died of a small bowel obstruction, a rare but serious condition that can result from weight-loss surgery.

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 be caused by various factors, such as scar tissue, hernia, cancer, medication, or inflammation. According to CNN, a small bowel obstruction can cause bowel tissue to die or perforate, leading to death if not treated promptly.

How did weight-loss surgery contribute to Lisa Marie Presley’s death?

The autopsy report, obtained by CNN, stated that Lisa Marie Presley’s small bowel obstruction was caused by adhesions, or scar tissue, that developed after bariatric surgery, a type of weight-loss surgery that she underwent several years ago. The report said that this is a known long-term complication of this type of surgery.

Bariatric surgery is a procedure that reduces the size of the stomach or bypasses part of the small intestine to limit food intake and absorption. It can help people who are obese or have obesity-related health problems to lose weight and improve their quality of life. However, it also carries some risks and side effects, such as infection, bleeding, leakage, ulcers, vitamin deficiencies, and adhesions.

Adhesions are bands of scar tissue that form between organs or tissues after surgery or injury. They can cause organs or tissues to stick together or twist, creating obstructions or blockages in the digestive tract. Adhesions are very common after abdominal surgery, affecting up to 93% of patients. However, most adhesions do not cause any symptoms or problems. Only about 3% of patients develop bowel obstructions due to adhesions within 10 years after surgery.

What were the signs and symptoms of Lisa Marie Presley’s condition?

The medical examiner’s report also detailed that Lisa Marie Presley was complaining of abdominal pain on the morning of her death. She was found unresponsive at her home in Calabasas, California, and pronounced dead at a nearby hospital on January 12. The report said that she died of natural causes and that the cardiac arrest was caused by the small bowel obstruction.

Dr. Angelique Campen, an emergency room physician at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, told CBS1 that deaths from small bowel obstructions are rare. She said that in many cases, patients experience significant pain and would probably be admitted to hospital.

Dr. Folasade P. May, associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the Melvin and Bren Simon Gastroenterology Quality Improvement Program, told CNN that she suspects Lisa Marie Presley developed a cardiac arrest because she had a severe complication from the small bowel obstruction.

Some of the signs and symptoms of a small bowel obstruction include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bloating or swelling
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Fever or chills
  • Dehydration or shock

If you have any of these symptoms, especially if you have had abdominal surgery in the past, you should seek medical attention immediately. A small bowel obstruction can be diagnosed by physical examination, blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, or other imaging tests. The treatment depends on the cause and severity of the obstruction. Some cases may be treated with fluids, antibiotics, painkillers, or nasogastric tubes (tubes inserted through the nose into the stomach to relieve pressure). Other cases may require surgery to remove the blockage or repair the damaged tissue.

How can you prevent or reduce the risk of adhesions and small bowel obstructions?

According to WebMD, there is no sure way to prevent adhesions from forming after surgery. However, some factors that may reduce the risk include:

  • Choosing a surgeon who has experience and skill in performing minimally invasive surgery (such as laparoscopy), which involves smaller incisions and less trauma to the tissues.
  • Following your surgeon’s instructions on how to care for your wound after surgery, such as keeping it clean and dry and avoiding infection.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) before and after surgery to reduce inflammation and scarring.
  • Eating a high-fiber diet and drinking plenty of fluids to prevent constipation and keep your bowels moving.
  • Avoiding smoking, which can impair wound healing and increase inflammation.
  • Exercising regularly, but gently, to improve blood circulation and prevent adhesions from forming or tightening.

If you have had bariatric surgery or any other abdominal surgery, you should also follow up with your doctor regularly and report any changes or problems in your digestive health. You should also be aware of the signs and symptoms of a small bowel obstruction and seek emergency care if you suspect you have one.

A tragic loss for the Presley family

Lisa Marie Presley was a singer and songwriter who followed in her father’s footsteps and released three albums over the course of her career. She was also well-known for her four high-profile marriages, to Danny Keough, Michael Jackson, Nicolas Cage, and Michael Lockwood. She had four children: Riley and Benjamin Keough, and twins Harper and Finley Lockwood.

Her death came two days after she appeared at the Golden Globes, where she presented an award with her mother, Priscilla Presley. She was buried next to her son Benjamin Keough, who killed himself in 2020 at the age of 27. After her death, her mother filed a legal challenge to the validity of her will, which had named Benjamin and Riley as co-trustees of her estate. The dispute was settled in May 2023.

Lisa Marie Presley’s death was a tragic loss for the Presley family and the music industry. Her fans and friends paid tribute to her on social media, remembering her as a talented and beautiful person who had overcome many challenges in her life. Her legacy lives on through her music and her children.

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