What is a gastrectomy?

A gastrectomy is the removal of part or all of the stomach. The end of the food pipe (oesophagus) will be stitched to the remaining part of the stomach or duodenum.


This procedure may require an anaesthetic.

What are the risks of this specific procedure?

There are risks and complications with this procedure.
They include but are not limited to the following:

General risks:

  • Infection can occur, requiring antibiotics and further treatment.
  • Bleeding could occur and may require a return to the operating room. Bleeding is more common if you have been taking blood thinning drugs such as Warfarin, Asprin, Clopidogrel (Plavix or Iscover) or Dipyridamole (Persantin or Asasantin).
  • Small areas of the lung can collapse, increasing the risk of chest infection. This may need antibiotics and physiotherapy.
  • Increased risk in obese people of wound infection, chest infection, heart and lung complications, and thrombosis.
  • Heart attack or stroke could occur due to the strain on the heart.
  • Blood clot in the leg (DVT) causing pain and swelling. In rare cases, part of the clot may break off and go to the lungs.
  • Death as a result of this procedure is possible.

Specific risks:

  • Especially in a male there may be difficulty passing urine and a tube may need to be inserted into the bladder, until the bladder is able to empty normally.
  • Deep bleeding in the abdominal cavity could occur and this may need fluid replacement or further surgery.
  • Breakdown of the bowel anastomosis which causes leakage of stomach and duodenal secretions with very severe problems of infection. This can be life threatening.
  • Damage of the bowel may occur which may cause leakage of bowel fluid. This may need further surgery.
  • Infections such as pus collections can occur in the abdominal cavity. This may need surgical drainage.
  • The bowel movement may be paralyzed of blocked after surgery and this may cause building up of fluid in the bowel with bloating of the abdomen and vomiting. Further treatment may be necessary for this. This is called an ileus.
  • A weakness can occur in the wound with complete or incomplete, bursting of the wound in the short term, or a hernia in the long term. This may need further surgery, but is extremely rare.
  • Some people develop a problem called “dumping”. This causes a dizzy feeling and near faints 1-2 hours after meals. Diet guidelines can improve this.
  • Nutritional problems after the surgery e.g. anorexia, low iron, loss of weight and recurrent bilious vomiting. This can be managed by the dietician.
  • The wound may become thickened and red and may be painful.
  • Adhesions (bands of scar tissue) may form and cause bowel obstruction. This can be a short term or a long term complication and may need further surgery.
    The ulcer of tumor may recur.
  • Increased risk in smokers of wound and chest infections, heart and lung complications and thrombosis.