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Gastrectomy

Gastrectomy is surgery to remove part or all of the stomach.

  • If only part of the stomach is removed, it is called partial gastrectomy
  • If the whole stomach is removed, it is called total 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 was removed, the intestine may need to be re-connected to the remaining stomach (partial gastrectomy) or to the esophagus (total gastrectomy).

Today, some surgeons perform gastrectomy using a camera. The surgery is done with a few small surgical cuts. The advantages of this surgery, which is called laparoscopy, are a faster recovery, less pain, and only a few small cuts.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Gastrectomy is used to treat:

  • Bleeding
  • Inflammation
  • Tumors
  • Polyps

Risks

Risks of any anesthesia include:

  • Severe medication reaction
  • Problems breathing

Risks of any operation include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Risks of this surgery include:

  • Leak from connection to the intestine

Before the Procedure

If you are a smoker, you should stop smoking several weeks before surgery and not start smoking again after surgery. Smoking slows recovery and increases the risk of problems. Tell your doctor or nurse if you need help quitting.

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 may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), vitamin E, warfarin (Coumadin), and any other drugs that make it hard for your blood to clot.
  • 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.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After the Procedure

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.

References

Gastrointestinal specimens (including hepatobiliary and pancreatic specimens). In: Lester SC: Manual of Surgical Pathology, 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2010: chap 19.

Updated: 12/10/2012

Robert A. Cowles, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.


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