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:
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 health care provider if you need help quitting.
Tell your doctor or nurse:
- If you are or might be pregnant
- What medicines, 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:
- Follow instructions about not eating and drinking.
- Take the medicines your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
- Arrive at the hospital on time.
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 people have pain from the surgery. You can control this with pain medicines.
You may stay in hospital for 6 to10 days.
Ask your doctor if you have any specific restrictions regarding activities. It may take several weeks for you to recover fully. While you are taking narcotic pain medicines, you should not drive.
Mahvi DM, Krantz SB. Stomach. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 49.
Update Date 10/27/2014
Updated by: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.