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What Is Involved in Duodenum Surgery?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

The specific procedures for duodenum surgery will vary, depending on the reason for the surgery. Some common duodenal surgeries include the pyloroplasty, which is used to treat peptic ulcers and certain other gastric diseases. Patients undergoing a vertical gastrectomy with duodenal switch are treating obesity through anatomical alterations. Those who plan any type of duodenum surgery should discuss their specific procedure with their surgeons.

A person's duodenum is the opening of his small intestine. It lies between the stomach and the jejunum, which is the middle section of the small intestine. Food that passes through the duodenum mixes with bile and other digestive substances so that the nutrients can be absorbed into the body.

Duodenum surgery is often performed laparoscopically, which means that the surgeon will use a series of smaller incisions to reduce the recovery time. An open surgery, which is more invasive, means that a large incision is used. Any type of duodenal surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia, so the patient will be asleep throughout the operation.

Prior to undergoing a duodenum surgery, patients will likely be asked to fast for a period of time. They should also discuss their other medical conditions with the surgeon. If the patient takes any medications or supplements, he may be asked to discontinue certain drugs prior to the surgery, usually to decrease the risk of bleeding.

Patients who are undergoing a pyloroplasty to treat peptic ulcers should expect the surgery to last one to two hours. The goal of the surgery is to widen the pylorus, or the opening in the lower stomach, so that food can pass more easily to the duodenum. An incision will be made through the pylorus muscle to correct the problem.

Duodenum surgery for weight loss involves dividing the stomach and removing a large portion of it, which restricts the amount of food that a person may eat at one time in order to promote weight loss. Then, the duodenum and the rest of the intestines are rearranged to prevent the food from being fully absorbed into the body. This is done to limit the amount of calories absorbed, and to encourage much of the food to pass through the body undigested to promote weight loss.

The average recovery time for a duodenum surgery will vary, depending on the specific procedure. If the patient had a pyloroplasty, he may stay in the hospital for two to three days, followed by a few weeks of recovery at home. A duodenum switch typically requires a week-long hospital stay, followed by one to two months of rest at home. Patients will be given specific dietary instructions following a duodenum surgery.

Before undergoing any type of duodenum surgery, patients should understand the potential risks involved. The risks of any type of surgery may include infection, bleeding, and adverse reactions to the anesthesia. Patients undergoing a pyloroplasty may rarely experience intestinal damage, hernias, and chronic diarrhea. Those who undergo a duodenum switch frequently suffer from intestinal distress and vitamin deficiency. Since their bodies will absorb very small amounts of nutrition at a time, they may also suffer from malnutrition, anemia, and protein deficiency.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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