Long term consequences of gastrectomy for patient's quality of life: the impact of reconstructive techniques

Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 Feb;94(2):438-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.1999.874_c.x.


Objective: During recent years considerable interest has been focused on quality of life as an additional therapeutic outcome measure in the surgical treatment of gastric carcinoma. However, the long term consequences of gastrectomy and the impact on quality of life of different reconstructive techniques are still a matter of controversy. To broaden the criteria for choice of treatment, we conducted a prospective randomized clinical trial to determine the impact of various gastrectomy procedures on quality of life during a 5-yr follow-up period.

Methods: Consecutive patients (n = 64) eligible for curative gastric cancer surgery were randomized to have either total (n = 31) or subtotal (n = 13) gastrectomy or a jejunal S-shaped pouch (n = 20) as a gastric substitute after total gastrectomy. Assessments of quality of life were made on seven occasions during a 5-yr period: within 1 wk before surgery, 3 and 12 months after the surgical intervention, and then once/yr. All patients were interviewed by one of two psychiatrists, who rated their symptoms and introduced standardized self-report questionnaires covering both general and specific aspects of life. The raters were blinded for the patients' group affiliations.

Results: Survival rates were similar in all treatment groups. Patients who had a total gastrectomy continued to suffer from alimentary symptoms, especially indigestion and diarrhea, during the entire follow-up period. However, patients who underwent subtotal gastrectomy had a significantly better outcome already during the first postoperative yr. Patients given a gastric substitute after gastrectomy improved with the passage of time and had an even better outcome in the long run.

Conclusions: To optimize the rehabilitation after gastrectomy, patients' quality of life must be taken into consideration. When subtotal gastrectomy is clinically feasible, this procedure has advantages in the early postoperative period. However, a pouch reconstruction after total gastrectomy should be considered in patients having a favorable tumor status suggesting a fair chance of long term survival.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anastomosis, Roux-en-Y
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrectomy / methods
  • Gastrectomy / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures
  • Stomach Neoplasms / mortality
  • Stomach Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome