This is a surgery to remove all or part of the stomach.
Abdominal Organs, Anterior View
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Gastrectomy is most often done to treat
It is currently the only way to cure stomach cancer. The use of
after surgery 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:
Ulcer diseaseBleedingInflammationBenign tumors in the stomach
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like: Damage to nearby organsLeaking from the new connection between the stomach, intestine, and/or esophagusInfectionBleedingHernia formation at the incision siteBlood clotsReaction to anesthesia
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as: SmokingDrinkingChronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity
Your doctor may do the following:
Physical examBlood testsFecal occult blood test
(FOBT)—a test to check for blood in the stool
Endoscopy—a procedure that uses a scope with a camera on the end to examine the gastrointestinal systemImaging studies to look at the esophagus, stomach, and intestine, including: Upper GI series—a series of x-rays of the during and after drinking a
barium solutionCT scan
Leading up to your procedure:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
Your doctor may recommend:
Eating a special dietTaking antibioticsShowering the night before your surgery using antibacterial soapArrange to have someone drive you to and from the hospital. Also, arrange for someone to help you at home.Eat a light meal the night before the surgery. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. It is given through an IV in your hand or arm.
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 doctor will close the muscles and skin of the abdomen with stitches or staples. A dressing will be applied.
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:
When and what you can eatHow you need to restrict your activity
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.
you may experience:
heartburnAbdominal painVitamin deficiencies
To treat these symptoms, your doctor will:
Prescribe medications and vitamin supplementsRecommend medications to reduce stomach acidMake changes in your diet
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Washing their handsWearing gloves or masksKeeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the sameReminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masksNot allowing others to touch your incision
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
Signs of infection, including fever and chillsDiarrheaRedness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision sitePersistent nausea and/or vomitingPain that you cannot control with the medications you have been givenPain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legsPain, burning, urgency or frequency of urination, or persistent bleeding in the urineCough, shortness of breath, or chest painSwelling and/or pain in your legs, calves, or feet
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Surgery for stomach cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at:
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/stomachcancer/detailedguide/stomach-cancer-treating-types-of-surgery. Updated February 22, 2013. Accessed December 6, 2013.
Surgery to remove stomach cancer. Cancer Research UK website. Available at:
http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=3917. Updated June 14, 2012. Accessed December 6, 2013.
What you need to know about stomach cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at:
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/stomach. Updated October 15, 2009. Accessed December 6, 2013.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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