Removing the Stomach or a Portion of the Stomach

The stomach helps digest and break down ingested food. It is located in the abdomen next to the liver, spleen and small intestine. The esophagus leads from the mouth to the stomach, and the stomach empties into the first portion of the small intestine called the duodenum.

When a mass or a tumor is found in the stomach, it may necessitate removal of all or a portion of the stomach. Removing the stomach is sometimes needed to cure cancers and remove masses.

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How the Procedure Is Performed

A gastrectomy is performed to remove the stomach, while a partial gastrectomy is performed to remove a portion of the stomach. It is done laparoscopically by making four or five small incisions and then inserting a long thin instrument called a laparoscope. The camera on the laparoscope helps the surgeon better see the surgical area. The stomach is cut away from where it is attached to the spleen and a portion of the stomach or the entire stomach is removed. If the entire stomach is removed or if a portion of the stomach near its connection to the esophagus or duodenum is removed, then a new connection is made with the small intestine.

Recovering From Surgery

Most patients return home one or three days after surgery and return to work and normal activities in approximately two weeks. A liquid diet is required after surgery and lasts until the patient can tolerate a regular diet. Pain medication is given as needed. A follow-up visit with the surgeon is held two weeks after surgery.