Gastrectomy 

Introduction 

Stomach cancer

A surgeon explains who’s at risk of stomach cancer, the questions to ask if you’re diagnosed and the treatment options.

Media last reviewed: 28/11/2012

Next review due: 28/11/2014

The stomach

The stomach is a hollow sac of muscle connected to the oesophagus (gullet) at its top and the first sections of the small intestine (duodenum) at its bottom.

The main purpose of the stomach is to use stomach acid to break down solid food into a more semi-solid consistency. 

This makes it easier for the rest of the digestive system to absorb nutrients from the food.

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A gastrectomy is a medical procedure that involves surgically removing all or part of the stomach.

There are four types of gastrectomy:

  • total gastrectomy, where the whole stomach is removed
  • partial gastrectomy, where the lower part of the stomach is removed
  • sleeve gastrectomy, where the left side of the stomach is removed
  • oesophagogastrectomy, where the top part of the stomach and part of the oesophagus (gullet) is removed

During a gastrectomy, the surgeon connects the oesophagus either to the small intestine or the remaining section of stomach. This means you will still have a working digestive system, although it will not function as well as it did before.

Read more about how a gastrectomy is performed.

Why is a gastrectomy carried out?

A gastrectomy is often used to treat stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer.

Less commonly, it is used to treat:

Read more about why a gastrectomy is used.

After a gastrectomy

A gastrectomy is a major operation, so recovery can take a long time. You will usually have to stay in hospital for one or two weeks after the procedure, where you may receive nutrition into a vein until you can eat and drink again.

You will eventually be able to digest most foods and liquids after a gastrectomy. However, you may need to make changes to your diet, such as eating frequent, smaller meals rather than three large meals a day. You may also need vitamin supplements to ensure you are getting the correct nutrition.

In many cases, a gastrectomy is an effective operation. Studies show survival rates for cancer after a gastrectomy are generally good. It has also been proven that people who have the operation to treat obesity lose a significant amount of weight afterwards.

Read more about recovering from a gastrectomy and the results of a gastrectomy.

Complications

As with any type of surgery, a gastrectomy carries a risk of complications, such as infection, bleeding and leaking from the area that has been stitched together.

A gastrectomy may also lead to problems caused by a reduction in your ability to absorb vitamins, such as anaemia and osteoporosis

Read more about the possible complications of a gastrectomy.

Page last reviewed: 09/11/2012

Next review due: 09/11/2014

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