Gastrectomy Postoperative Complications

Complications related to the surgical procedure or problems adjusting to an altered digestive tract can occur.

Dumping syndrome is a common problem that occurs after gastrectomy. With all or much of the stomach gone, food and fluids can pass too quickly into the small intestine, causing symptoms including:

  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating

Dumping syndrome may resolve on its own after a few months and is often be relieved by dietary changes. Eating several small, frequent meals during the day, and eating foods higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates usually relieves symptoms. If diarrhea and vomiting worsen, the surgeon should be notified.

Other possible complications of gastrectomy include:

  • Complications from general anesthesia (e.g., stroke, heart attack, brain damage)
  • Infection at the incision site
  • Internal bleeding
  • Peritonitis (i.e., inflammation of the membranes lining the abdomen)
  • Pernicious anemia (caused by vitamin B12 deficiency)
  • Persistent nutritional and digestive problems

The surgeon should be notified if any of these symptoms appear:

  • Fever of 101°F or higher
  • Pain not relieved by medication or comfort measures
  • Pain that worsens
  • Redness, drainage, bleeding, or swelling at the incision site

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Oct 2001

Last Modified: 17 Sep 2015