Laparoscopic stomach surgery in Santa Barbara, California

Laparoscopic stomach surgery, technically called gastrectomy, is removal of all or part of the stomach. This procedure is performed to treat recurrent peptic ulcer disease, to remove a chronic gastric ulcer, to stop bleeding in a perforated ulcer, or to remove a tumor. The nerves that control acid secretion in the stomach, called the vagus nerves, can be cut through the laparoscope for reduction of acid in the stomach as well. Dr. David Thoman specializes in laparoscopic gastrointestinal surgery, including gastrectomy, in his Santa Barbara, California practice.

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  • How is laparoscopic gastrectomy performed?

    Dr. Thoman performs laparoscopic gastrectomy using a tiny, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope. The laparoscope is connected to a tiny video camera that projects a view of the operative site onto video monitors located in the operating room.

    During the procedure, Dr. Thoman makes several small incisions on the abdomen through which he inserts the laparoscope along with other very small, specialized surgical instruments. He inflates the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas to allow a better view of the operative area. He then removes all or a portion of the stomach and attaches any remaining portion of the stomach to the small intestine, if necessary. A special plastic bag is then inserted through one of the small holes and opened in the abdomen. The stomach is then placed in the bag and the top of the bag is brought out of the incision. The specimen is then squeezed through the hole and removed from the body along with the bag.

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  • Following the procedure, the small incisions are closed with sutures, which are covered with glue and later dissolve. After a few months, the tiny scars are barely visible

    What are the benefits of laparoscopic stomach surgery?

    The benefits of laparoscopic stomach surgery for our patients include:

    • Surgery requires only 3 or 4 tiny scars instead of 1 large abdominal scar.
    • Decreased hospital stays — many patients leave the day after surgery.
    • Reduced postoperative pain.
    • Shorter recovery time — days, instead of weeks — and quicker return to normal daily activities, including work.

    What can I expect after surgery?

    Most of our patients are able to walk around and perform basic self care within hours of surgery. The abdominal soreness is typically mild and lasts from a few days up to 2 weeks. Because the small incisions can’t burst open like with a single large incision, you can return to full activity as tolerated. In general, there are no restrictions with lifting or exercising.

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  • How safe is laparoscopic gastrectomy?

    If performed by trained and experienced surgeon, like Dr. Thoman, who has specialized training, laparoscopic gastrectomy is as safe as traditional “open” surgery. In fact, several studies have shown fewer complications with this approach.*

    * Kitano S., Shiraishi N. Current status of laparoscopic gastrectomy for cancer in Japan. Surgical Endoscopy 2004; 18:182-5.