Post-Gastrectomy Dumping Syndrome

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Dumping Syndrome Defined and Symptoms

A gastrectomy is the surgical removal of the stomach. However, a possible complication of a gastrectomy may be dumping syndrome, which occurs when the stomach empties its contents rapidly. This rapid removal of stomach contents may occur within one hour of eating and may continue for several hours.

One symptom of dumping syndrome is vomiting during the early stages. Other early symptoms of dumping syndrome include irregular heartbeat with signs of heavy sweating and flushed skin. Meanwhile, late stages of dumping syndrome may include anxiety and shakiness because the body is unable to adjust to the quick dumping.

Each patient is different with varied results. For instance, some gastric patients may experience only one stage such as the early stage while some patients experience both early and late stages.

Dumping Syndrome Diagnosis and Causes

A patient may not be aware of dumping syndrome until chronic symptoms are present. A gastric patient may ignore initial mild symptoms such as mild nausea without obtaining medical advice. However, a diagnosis of dumping syndrome may occur after post-gastrectomy patients contact their health care providers for more advanced symptoms such as heart palpitations.

The main cause of post-gastrectemy dumping syndrome is the rapid switching of food and juices from the stomach to the small intestine. This rapid change can make the body feel unbalanced, resulting in dumping syndrome. Treatment such as dietary modification or medication may calm post-gastrectomy dumping syndrome.

Dumping Syndrome Risks

Gastrectomy is a common risk for dumping syndrome. However, there are other types of stomach surgery which may increase the chances of a patient experiencing dumping syndrome. Some of these surgeries may be performed during the partial removal of the stomach (subtotal gastrectomy).

For instance, vagotomy may cause dumping syndrome. A vagotomy may be performed on a patient when stomach acid production is excessive and the surgery can be performed with a subtotal gastrectomy. This dual surgery benefits the gastric patient in two ways. First, it reduces overall patient costs, since there is no need for two separate operating rooms and surgical teams and another benefit of a dual surgery is the limited amount of time a gastric patient needs for post-gastrectomy, including having a home health aide or taking short-term disability.

Sources: Post-Gastrectomy Syndrome Overview