What is Gastrectomy?

Gastrectomy is the removal of part or all of the stomach. The purpose of gastrectomy is to treat cancer and obesity.

There are three main types of gastrectomy:

  • A partial gastrectomy is the removal of a part of the stomach. The lower half is usually removed.
  • A full gastrectomy is the removal of the entire stomach.
  • A sleeve gastrectomy is the removal of the left side of the stomach. This is usually performed as part of a surgery for weight loss.

When is Gastrectomy needed?

Gastrectomy is used to treat stomach problems that aren’t helped by other treatments. Your doctor may recommend a gastrectomy to treat:

  • Benign, or noncancerous, tumors
  • Bleeding
  • Inflammation
  • Perforations in the stomach wall
  • Polyps, or growths inside your stomach
  • Stomach cancer
  • Severe peptic or duodenal ulcers

Some types of gastrectomy can also be used to treat obesity. By making the stomach smaller, it fills more quickly. This may help you eat less. However, gastrectomy is only an appropriate obesity treatment when other options have failed.


What should you know before undergoing Gastrectomy?

Not everyone can safely undergo this procedure. To decide if you are eligible for gastrectomy, your doctor will look at the type and stage of your cancer as well as any other health problems you have. Some, like anemia and hypoproteinemia (low protein levels in your blood), make it more likely you’ll have severe problems after this surgery.

What are the complications and side effects?

The risks of a gastrectomy include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastric dumping syndrome, which is a severe form of maldigestion
  • An infection of the incision wound
  • An infection in the chest
  • Internal bleeding
  • Leaking from the stomach at the operation site
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach acid leaking into your esophagus, which causes scarring, narrowing, or constriction (stricture)
  • A blockage of the small bowel
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pneumonia
  • Damage to adjacent structures

You could get what’s called dumping syndrome. When your small intestine has to digest a large amount of food at once, you may throw up or have nausea, cramps, or diarrhea. Many people notice these symptoms within an hour of eating.

If you feel sick a few hours later, your blood sugar may be rising and falling too fast. It’s common to sweat, have a fast heart rate, or feel tired or confused.

Changing what you eat can help you manage these symptoms. Remember, too, to be patient. After your gastrectomy, it may take 3 to 6 months to adjust.

It is important you understand the precautions and know the possible complication and side effects before having this Gastrectomy. If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.


How do I prepare for Gastrectomy?

Your doctor will order blood tests and imaging tests before the surgery. These will ensure you’re healthy enough for the procedure. You’ll also have a complete physical and a review of your medical history.

During your appointment, tell your doctor if you’re taking any medications. Be certain to include over-the-counter medicines and supplements. You may have to stop taking certain drugs prior to surgery.

You should also tell your doctor if you’re pregnant, think you could be pregnant, or have other medical conditions, such as diabetes.

If you smoke cigarettes, you should stop smoking. Smoking adds extra time to recovery. It can also create more complications, especially those involving infection and lung problems.

What happens during Gastrectomy?

It can take between 4 to 5 hours if the doctor makes a large incision (a cut) to remove your stomach. Or he can make several small cuts, called laparoscopic gastrectomy. It takes less time, but it isn’t as widely used.

Open surgery

Open surgery involves a single, large incision. Your surgeon will pull back skin, muscle, and tissue to access your stomach.

Laparoscopic surgery

Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive surgery. It involves small incisions and specialized tools. This procedure is less painful and allows for a quicker recovery time. It’s also known as “keyhole surgery” or laparoscopically assisted gastrectomy (LAG).

LAG is usually preferred to open surgery. It’s a more advanced surgery with a lower rate of complications.

Your surgeon may recommend open surgery over laparoscopic surgery to treat certain conditions, such as stomach cancer.

What happens after Gastrectomy?

After the gastrectomy, your doctor will close your incision with stitches and the wound will be bandaged. You’ll be brought to a hospital room to recover. A nurse will monitor your vital signs during the recovery process.

You can expect to stay in the hospital for one to two weeks after the surgery. During this period, you’ll likely have a tube running from your nose to your stomach. This allows your doctor to remove any fluids produced by your stomach. This helps keep you from feeling nauseated.

You’ll be fed through a tube in your vein until you’re ready to eat and drink normally.

Tell your doctor immediately if you develop any new symptoms or pain that’s not controlled with medication.

If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.


What should you do after Gastrectomy?

Once you go home, you may have to adjust your eating habits. Some changes may include:

  • Eating smaller meals throughout the day
  • Avoiding high fiber foods
  • Eating foods rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins C and D
  • Taking vitamin supplements

Recovery from a gastrectomy can take a long time. Eventually, your stomach and small intestine will stretch. Then, you’ll be able to consume more fiber and eat larger meals. You’ll need to have regular blood tests after the procedure to make sure that you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: September 7, 2018 | Last Modified: September 7, 2018

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