This is a surgery to remove all or part of the stomach.
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Gastrectomy is most often done to treat stomach cancer. It is currently the only way to cure stomach cancer. The use of chemotherapy and radiation may help improve survival. Even if the cancer is too advanced to be cured, gastrectomy can help to prevent bleeding, obstruction, and pain.
In addition to treating stomach cancer, this surgery may also be done to treat:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as:
Your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to your procedure:
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery.
An incision will be made in your abdomen. Next, surgical instruments will be used to remove all or part of your stomach. If only part of your stomach is removed, it is called partial gastrectomy. With this type of surgery, the remaining part of your stomach will be connected to your esophagus and small intestine. If this is done for ulcer disease, the nerves that control acid production may also be cut. If all of your stomach is removed, it is called total gastrectomy. A new stomach will be made using your intestinal tissue. The end of your esophagus will be attached to your small intestine.
If you have stomach cancer, the lymph nodes will be removed and examined as well. This is because cancer can spread through your lymphatic system.
After the surgery is complete, the muscles and skin of the abdomen will be closed with stitches or staples. A dressing will be applied.
1-3 hours or longer
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
This surgery is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 6-12 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
Your doctor will give you guidelines on:
During the first few days after surgery, you may be restricted from eating. As your stomach stretches during recovery, you will be able to eat more at a time. If you had a total gastrectomy, you will need to eat smaller amounts of foods more often.
After surgery, you may experience:
To treat these symptoms, your doctor will:
Your bowels will work more slowly than usual. Chewing gum may help speed the process of your bowel function returning to normal.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Gastroenterological Association
National Cancer Institute
BC Cancer Agency
Canadian Cancer Society
Surgery for stomach cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/stomachcancer/detailedguide/stomach-cancer-treating-types-of-surgery. Updated March 16, 2015. Accessed December 18, 2015.
Surgery to remove stomach cancer. Cancer Research UK website. Available at: http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=3917. Accessed December 18, 2015.
What you need to know about stomach cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/stomach. Updated July 2009. Accessed December 18, 2015.
3/23/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Short V, Herbert G, et al. Chewing gum for postoperative recovery of gastrointestinal function. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Feb 20;2.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 3/23/2015