Gastrectomy

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Overview

Gastrectomy is an operation in which all or part of the stomach is removed.

Why am I having a gastrectomy?

Gastrectomy is used to treat:

  • bleeding
  • inflammation
  • tumors
  • polyps
  • perforations of the stomach wall
  • ulcers
  • obesity

Types of gastrectomy

Complete Gastrectomy

In a complete gastrectomy, the entire stomach is removed. The esophagus is connected to the intestine. This is a radical surgical intervention which requires significant changes in lifestyle after surgery.

Partial Gastrectomy

In a partial gastrectomy, a portion of the stomach is removed and the missing area is sutured together, depending on the location. If the removal involves the connections to the intestine or the esophagus, the surgeon may need to re-connect these organs.

Sleeve Gastrectomy

A sleeve gastrectomy involves removing the left side of the stomach. This is primarily done for weight loss. The operation reduces the size of the stomach making the person feel full after eating less.

Laparoscopic Gastrectomy

Using laparoscopy to perform a gastrectomy has several advantages, some of which are:

  • less pain after surgery
  • fewer, and or smaller, incisions
  • faster healing and recovery

In comparison, open surgery involves a larger incision and requires longer hospitalization. Open surgery also has an increased risk for complications. However, laparoscopy may not be appropriate for all circumstances.

Preparing for your gastrectomy

If you are a smoker, you should stop smoking several weeks before surgery and not start smoking again after surgery. Smoking slows recovery time and increases the risk of problems. If you require help in quitting smoking, please let your doctor or nurse know.

Always tell your doctor or nurse:

  • if you are, or might be, pregnant
  • what drugs, vitamins, herbs, and other supplements you are taking, even ones you bought without a prescription

During the week before your surgery:

  • you will likely be asked to not ingest any drugs that make it difficult for your blood to clot (ex. aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E, warfarin, etc.)
  • ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery

On the day of your surgery:

  • do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery
  • take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water
  • arrive at the hospital at the appointed time as scheduled

During your gastrectomy

The surgery is done while you are under general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free). The surgeon makes a cut in the abdomen and removes all or part of the stomach, depending on the reason for the procedure.

Depending on what part of the stomach in being removed, the intestine may need to be re-connected to the remaining stomach (partial gastrectomy) or to the esophagus (total gastrectomy).

After your gastrectomy

How well you do after surgery depends on the reason for the surgery and your condition.

After surgery, there may be a tube in your nose which will help keep your stomach empty. It is removed as soon as your bowels are working well.

Most patients have mild discomfort from the surgery. You can easily control this with pain medications.

Patients usually stay in hospital for 6 – 10 days.

After discharge, you should perform light activity for the first 4 – 6 weeks. If you take narcotic pain medications, you should not drive.

Complications

Risks of any anesthesia include:

  • severe medication reaction
  • problems breathing

Risks of any operation include:

  • bleeding
  • infection

Risks of a gastrectomy include:

  • leakage from a connection to the intestine