When is stomach surgery needed?

Stomach surgery may be needed for stomach ulcers, cancer, gastroparesis, stomach dumping and dysphagia. In other cases, gastric bypass may be desired in which part of the stomach and small intestine is removed as a weight loss treatment for severe obesity.

How is it done?

The surgery will differ depending on the condition that is being treated.

Stomach ulcers, perforation or bleeding of the gastrointestinal tract requires stomach surgery. In such cases the following surgeries may be done:

Vagotomy – otherwise known as surgery of the stomach nerve, may be done in emergency cases to stop the stimulation of stomach acid.

Pyloroplasty – this surgery is done to release the pyloric sphincter which passes food from the stomach to the small intestine.


Partial stomach removal or partial gastrectomy - may be needed if an area in the stomach has been damaged by acid disease, severe gastroparesis or if affected by cancer. Complete removal of the stomach could be needed to remove a large tumour. In these instances, a colostomy bag is attached thru an opening in the abdomen to allow waste to pass out of the body.

Surgery for gastroparesis in cases where medication has not worked as treatment, the following may be done:

Jejunostomy may be inserted in which a feeding tube is inserted through the abdomen to the small intestine bypassing the stomach. In this way, nutrients can pass straight into the small intestine to be absorbed.

Gastric electrical stimulation may be considered in which a stimulation device is inserted to control the stomach's contractions.

Gastrostomy tubes to the stomach may be inserted to reduce vomiting and dehydration, as well as to permit feeding directly into the stomach.

Otherwise, a part of the stomach may be removed to improve its ability to empty.

For those who have dysphagia and have problems with swallowing, a tube may be implanted into the stomach through an opening in the abdomen, or endoscopically in order to allow nutrients into the body.

Stomach dumping is a condition where the food passes through the stomach to the small intestine too quickly. This condition may be treated surgically through the reconstruction of the pyloric valve to control the stomach's food release into the intestine.

Gastric bypass may be desired in which part of the stomach and small intestine is removed as a weight loss treatment for severe obesity. This surgery can be done through open surgery or laparoscopically. A weight loss surgery is done for those who are obese and have tried and failed at losing weight through exercise and dieting. No matter what type of weight loss surgery is performed, discipline and healthy lifestyle choices are required.  Dr Muthambi will be able to evaluate your health and tell you whether or not you are a candidate for gastric bypass surgery.

After surgery, you will be given instructions on how to care for your wound. You will be given pain medication and antibiotics to prevent infection. Depending on the type of stomach surgery performed, recovery may differ. Recovery is generally quicker when the surgery is done laparoscopically or through open surgery. It is essential to contact Dr Muthambi if you experience any of the following symptoms as emergency care may be needed:

  • High temperature or chills
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling around the incisions
  • Bleeding from the wound
  • Extreme pain