Post-gastrectomy problems in patients with personality defects: the "albatross" syndrome

Can Med Assoc J. 1967 Jun 17;96(24):1559-64.


Of a series of 130 patients undergoing operation for peptic ulcer disease at the Vancouver General Hospital, seven patients with personality defects had a disastrous outcome after operation.THE MAIN FEATURES OF THIS POSTGASTRECTOMY SYNDROME WERE REMARKABLY SIMILAR: persistent abdominal pain without demonstrable cause, intermittent and inexplicable nausea and vomiting, continued analgesic drug dependence and marked nutritional deficiencies. The high incidence was surprising and was not confined to any particular socioeconomic group. Such patients fall into three groups: those with true ulcer disease, those with salicylate addiction, and those without positive signs of ulcer but with chronic complaints. A history of a personality defect should warn the surgeon, and operation should be performed only for the complications of true ulcer disease. Though operation may cure the ulcer, the patient is worse off because the resulting physiologic derangements cannot be accepted or handled by him. These patients continue to haunt the surgeon, and the syndrome has been named the "albatross" syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder*
  • Female
  • Gastrectomy / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Peptic Ulcer / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Psychosomatic Medicine*
  • Salicylates / adverse effects


  • Salicylates