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Medical Offices of Manhattan
Insights from a Gastroenterologist on the Tragic Loss of Lisa Marie Presley

The official cause of death for Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of rock ‘n’ roll superstar Elvis, was finally revealed in July. It was a bowel obstruction, according to the Los Angeles County medical examiner’s office.

Presley, a performer in her own right, was brought to a hospital in California on January 12th, where she later passed away. She was only 54 years old.

Pratima Dibba, MD, a gastroenterologist at Medical Offices of Manhattan, offered her insight. 

“The sudden and unexpected passing of Lisa Marie Presley was devastating news to many.  For the bariatric surgery patient, her death may have struck a different chord.  Media outlets have reported that the cause of death was complications of a small bowel obstruction that was secondary to bariatric surgery performed several years ago.  While the risk of death from a small bowel obstruction is not clear from current literature, small bowel obstructions can be fatal if there are systemic complications that occur as a result.

There are many unclear details about the death of Lisa Marie Presley.  It is hard to say what contributed to her small bowel obstruction, which resulted in death.  It is unclear how rapidly the bowel obstruction evolved before she sought medical care.  It is unclear how quickly her body reacted to the bowel obstruction.  It is unclear whether pain medication masked any preceding pain that could have prompted her to seek medical attention earlier.  It is unclear whether she had pre-existing medical conditions that heightened her risk of death.  It is unclear if she was a candidate for any emergent intervention.

But the take home point for any bariatric patient is to be aware of the risk of scarring (adhesions), bowel obstruction, and potential complications from bowel obstructions.  Bariatric patients should have a low threshold to seek medical attention if they develop abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal distention, constipation, or if they cannot pass gas or have a bowel movement.  This may not guarantee a positive outcome, but it certainly can help.”