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Dig Surg. 2006;23(5-6):325-30. Epub 2006 Dec 12.

What is the difference between proximal and total gastrectomy regarding postoperative bile reflux into the oesophagus?

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Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery Unit, Evangelismos General Hospital, University of Athens, Athens, Greece.



Tumours of the oesophagogastric junction and the gastric cardia can be treated either with proximal or with total gastrectomy. Reflux of bile and other duodenal contents into the oesophagus following proximal gastrectomy has generally been considered worse than reflux after total gastrectomy. The aim of the present study was to test this assumption given that there is limited literature regarding objective evaluation of the postoperative duodeno-oesophageal reflux.


We carried out bilirubin monitoring with the ambulatory spectrophotometer Bilitec 2000 in two groups of patients and in one group of healthy volunteers matched in age and sex. The proximal gastrectomy group consisted of 8 patients who underwent proximal gastrectomy and an end-to-side oesophagogastrostomy without pyloric drainage procedure. The total gastrectomy group consisted of 11 patients who underwent total gastrectomy and Roux-en-Y reconstruction with a 50-cm-long jejunal limb. The control group consisted of 8 healthy volunteers. In all cases, an absorption value of 0.14 was used as the threshold for reflux episodes.


The median fraction of time that bilirubin absorbance was >0.14 in the proximal versus total gastrectomy group was 47.4 and 13.4%, respectively (p = 0.02). The difference between the two groups was significant in the supine position (p = 0.03), whilst the upright position, meal and postprandial periods were not found to have significant difference. Likewise, no significant difference was found in the number of reflux episodes. The median fraction of time in the proximal gastrectomy group compared with controls was 47.4 versus 3.95% (p < 0.001), whilst in the total gastrectomy group compared with controls, it was 13.4 versus 3.95% (p > 0.05). The number of reflux episodes in the proximal gastrectomy group compared with controls was 74 versus 21 (p = 0.02), whilst in the total gastrectomy group compared with controls, it was 103 versus 21 (p > 0.05).


Total gastrectomy with Roux-en-Y reconstruction reduces the time of oesophageal exposure to duodenal juices as compared with proximal gastrectomy. This effect seems to be more prominent in the supine position.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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