Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 874–880 | Cite as

Results of Completion Gastrectomies in 44 Patients with Postsurgical Gastric Atony

  • James E. Speicher
  • Richard C. Thirlby
  • Joseph Burggraaf
  • Christopher Kelly
  • Sarah Levasseur
original article



Postsurgical gastric atony occurs infrequently after gastric surgery. However, the symptoms are disabling and refractory to medical management. The only effective treatment is completion gastrectomy. A few studies have examined in detail the long-term results of this radical procedure.


From 1988 through 2007, 44 patients (84% female, 16% male) underwent near-total or total completion gastrectomies for refractory postsurgical gastric atony. The average age was 52 (range 32–72). Gastric atony was documented using radionuclide solid food emptying studies. Charts were reviewed retrospectively to identify preoperative symptoms and long-term postoperative function, and the patients were contacted by phone to evaluate their current level of function.


Of the original 44 patients, 66% (n = 29) were evaluated postoperatively at a mean of 5.6 + 4.5 years (range 0.5–15.0 years). Fourteen patients (32%) had died, and seven (16%) were lost to follow-up. Most common presenting symptoms were abdominal pain (98%), vomiting (98%), nausea (77%), diet limitation (75%), heartburn (64%), and weight loss (59%, average = 19% of BW). Postoperative complications occurred in 36% (n = 16), most commonly bowel obstruction (11%), anastomotic stricture (9%), and anastomotic leak (7%), and there was one perioperative death. At last follow-up, there were significant improvements in abdominal pain (97% to 59%, p < 0.001), vomiting (97% to 31%, p < 0.001), nausea (86% to 45%, p < 0.001), and diet limited to liquids or nothing at all (57% to 7%, p < 0.001). Some symptoms were more common postoperatively, including early satiety (24% to 89%, p < 0.001), and postprandial fullness (10% to 72%, p < 0.001). Average BMI at the time of surgery and at last follow-up were 23 and 21, respectively. Osteoporosis was diagnosed pre- and postoperatively in 17% and 67% of patients, respectively (p < 0.001). Seventy-eight percent of patients stated that they were in better health after surgery, while 17% were neutral, and 6% stated that they were worse off. Mean satisfaction with surgery was 4.7 (1–5 Likert scale).


Completion gastrectomies in this patient population resulted in significant improvements in abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, and severe diet limitations. Most patients, however, have significant ongoing gastrointestinal complaints, and the incidence of osteoporosis is high. Patient satisfaction is high; about 78% of patients believed their health status is improved. We believe these data support the selective use of completion gastrectomies in patients with severe postsurgical gastroparesis.


Gastroparesis Gastric atony Completion gastrectomy 


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Copyright information

© The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • James E. Speicher
    • 1
  • Richard C. Thirlby
    • 1
  • Joseph Burggraaf
    • 1
  • Christopher Kelly
    • 1
  • Sarah Levasseur
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General, Thoracic, and Vascular SurgeryVirginia Mason Medical CenterSeattleUSA

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