Gastrectomy is the removal of part or all of the stomach.
There are three main types of gastrectomy:
- A partial gastrectomy is the removal of a part of
the stomach. It’s usually the lower half that’s removed.
- A full gastrectomy is the removal of the entire
- A sleeve gastrectomy is the removal of the left
side of the stomach. This is usually performed as part of a surgery for weight
Removing your stomach doesn’t take away your ability to digest
liquids and foods. However, you may need to make several lifestyle changes
after the procedure.
Why You May Need a Gastrectomy
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
- 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. Less invasive treatments include:
How to Prepare for a Gastrectomy
Your doctor will order blood tests and imaging tests for you
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, you should quit. Smoking adds extra time to
recovery. It can also create more complications.
The Risks of Gastrectomy
The risks of a gastrectomy include:
- acid reflux
- gastric dumping syndrome, which is a severe form
- an infection of the incision wound
- an infection in the chest
- internal bleeding
- leaking from the stomach at the operation site
- stomach acid leaking into your esophagus, which causes
scarring, narrowing, or constriction (stricture)
- a blockage of the small bowel
- vitamin deficiency
- weight loss
Make sure you tell your doctor about your medical history and
what medications you’re taking. Follow all of the directions you’re given to
prepare for the procedure. This will minimize your risks.
How Gastrectomy Is Performed
There are two different ways to perform gastrectomy. All are
performed under general anesthesia. This means you’ll be in a deep sleep during
the operation and you won’t be able to feel any pain.
Open surgery involves a single, large incision. Your surgeon will
pull back skin, muscle, and tissue to access your stomach
Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive surgery. It uses small
incisions and specialized tools. It involves less pain and a quicker recovery
time. It’s also known as “keyhole surgery” or laparoscopically assisted
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.
Types of Gastrectomy
There are three major types of gastrectomy.
Your surgeon removes the lower half of your stomach. Your surgeon
may also remove nearby lymph nodes if you have cancer cells in them.
In this surgery, your surgeon will close off your duodenum. Your duodenum is the
first part of your small intestine that receives partially digested food from
your stomach. Then, the remaining part of your stomach will be connected
to your bowel.
Also called total gastrectomy, this procedure completely removes
the stomach. Your doctor will connect your esophagus directly to your small intestine. The
esophagus normally connects your throat to your stomach.
Up to three-quarters of your stomach may be removed during a
sleeve gastrectomy. The remaining portion is pulled up and stitched. This
creates a smaller, longer stomach.
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 the whole time.
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 to be removed. It 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.
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.