A gastrectomy is a medical treatment procedure that comprises surgically removing the stomach. During a total gastrectomy, the surgeon connects the tube that runs between the throat and the stomach (oesophagus) to the small intestine so that the person can have a working digestive system during the procedure.

Causes that lead to gastrectomy are:

  • Infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori
  • High salt diet
  • Smoking
  • Diet low in fiber such as fresh fruits and vegetables

General anesthesia is used to render the patient unconscious, so they do not experience pain and have no awareness during the operation. When the anesthesia has taken effect, a urinary catheter is usually inserted to monitor urine output. A nasogastric tube (i.e., a thin tube from the nose down into the stomach) is also put in. The abdomen is then cleansed with an antiseptic solution.

The surgeon makes a large incision from just below the breastbone to the navel. If the lower end of the stomach is diseased, the surgeon places clamps on either end of the area and that portion of the stomach is removed. The upper part of the stomach is then attached to the small intestine.

If the upper end of the stomach is diseased, the end of the esophagus and the upper part of the stomach are clamped. The affected portion is removed, and the lower part of the stomach is attached to the esophagus.


  • Wound infection
  • Leaking from where the stomach has been closed or re-attached to the small intestine
  • Stricture, where stomach acid leaks up into your oesophagus and over time causes scarring, which leads to your oesophagus becoming narrow and constricted
  • Chest infection
  • Internal bleeding
  • Blockage of the small bowel

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 patients have mild discomfort from the surgery. You can easily control this with pain medications. Patients usually stay in hospital for 6-10 days. After discharge, you should perform light activity for the first 4 – 6 weeks. If you take narcotic pain medications, you should not drive.

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