Category: gastric stricture
Gastroesophageal (GE) reflux is the condition when the stomach content are able to “reflux” back thru an incompetent lower esophageal sphincter (LES) into the esophagus.
Gastroesophageal reflux Disease (GERD) is the clinical condition which is the result of long standing reflux and results in microscopic and visible changes to the inner lining of the esophagus, esophageal mucosa.
GERD is a non descriptive as to the cause of the condition. It only states that the content of the stomach have been irritating the lining of the esophagus on chronic bases. This can be caused by an anatomical abnormality fo the GE junction (Hiatal Hernia), or may be related to disfunction the LES. Other possible causes of the GERD may be infection (H.Pylori) environmental (stress) and dietary (nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, spicy food) in origin.
So far we have not clarified the chemical nature of the the refluxed content.
In Acid Reflux, the relative acid overproduction of acidic secretion and the exposure of the esophageal mucosa is what needs to be addressed. This is accomplished by acid suppression medications, Anti Histamine (H2 blockers) Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) for example. The physiology, and the mechanism involving this condition is well understood. As a surgeon, we do however see patients who should have had surgical intervention. The initial mode of therapy for a patient with documented acid reflux, and or symptomatic hiatal hernia is placing them on medication. These patients are then recommended to have related upper endoscopy. Patients who do not improve or where deterioration of the esophageal mucosa, presence of precancerous cells, then the patients are referred for surgical intervention.
Bile Reflux, contrary to acid reflux may have very little if anything with the LES. The symptoms experienced by the patient may be as ofter related to the excessive bile in the stomach seen frequently
after cholecystectomy, or in those patients with dysfunctional gallbladder (low EF on HIDA scan).
One of the findings following Gastric Bypass is a Candy Cane Gastric Bypass. Nausea and vomiting , upper abdominal pain is a common complaint of patient who have had the Gastric Bypass RNY operation. This is in addition to the high incidence of patients who experience the complications of weight regain and or dumping syndrome.
Quite frequently the symptoms of nausea, vomiting and upper abdominal pain of a patient with history of gastric bypass is evaluated by a primary care, referred to a gastroenterologist. The “routine” work up recommended is X-ray of the abdomen, maybe contrast study (Ct scan or upper GI) and for sure and upper endoscopy. The result quite frequently reported as “…nothing wrong”.
A typical upper GI in a Candy Cane Gastric Bypass situation may look like this:
A common and underreported problem may be a Candy Cane finding. The “blind” end of the small bowel anastomosis is too long and this results in food settling in the hook of the candy cane. The symptoms of the nausea, vomiting and upper abdominal pain may be from the residual food and liquids that do not drain from this area.
Candy Cane Gastric Bypass finding
Candy Cane Gastric Bypass cases will require surgical intervention to shorten the length of the blind segment of the small bowel to improve symptoms.
It is my recommendations that any patient with history of weight loss surgery who is having any persistent gastrointestinal symptoms be evaluated by weight loss surgeon.
After struggling with obesity for most of my life I was finally fed up. I had heard about weight loss surgeries before but was always under the common misconception that it was for people who wanted the “easy” way out of a hard situation. I had been working out and reducing calories and tried every popular diet and trainer you could think of. I was still huge and each time I would stop one of these extreme programs I would only end up larger than I was before.
My husband’s cousin had the sleeve surgery and she raved about it. Watching her success is what started to open my mind to surgery, but I was only considering the sleeve gastrectomy. I went to a center in another state that offers Duodenal switch, lapband, RNY and the sleeve. The surgeon I met with strongly suggested RNY to me, but I was stuck on the sleeve. I didn’t want my intestines touched period. I had the sleeve surgery on October 9, 2013.
My high weight was 402 lbs and I weighed 343 on the day of my sleeve surgery. I actually did well with the sleeve and was able to get down to 218 as my lowest. However it was still much like dieting. It was so stressful. After a while my body wouldn’t drop the weight regardless of how little I ate and exercised. I was eating 800-1200 calories a day and low fat meals and working out and kept slowly gaining weight. I was frustrated and honestly I gave up. My reflux wouldn’t go away so I visited a bariatric surgeon in my area who suggested that we essentially re-do the sleeve surgery to make my sleeve small again so that I would eat less and lose weight again. I got a second opinion and that surgeon suggested I revise to RNY. I went to obesity help’s website to explain my situation and a lot of people with much more experience than me HIGHLY urged me to see Dr Keshishian before making a decision. He was said to be an expert in revision weight loss surgery. I almost cancelled my appointment and didn’t have hope with this doctor either, but since I was in a dead end I went anyway. Dr Keshishian told me it wasn’t my fault. WHAT!? I had never heard that before. I usually get the shame from doctors who assume I must not be trying or that I am secretly eating something wrong. He ordered tests and told me it was “simply science” and I just LOVED him! I had a stricture in my Sleeve that needed to be repaired so since I needed surgery anyway I decided to go ahead and revise to a surgery that has the highest success rate, Duodenal Switch.
I was so scared of my intestines being cut and Dr. Keshishian eased my fears. I wish I had went that route the first time but then I might not appreciate it like I do now. Duodenal switch is the ONLY surgery I would recommend to anyone. As Dr K says it’s simple numbers. It’s the surgery with the highest percent of excess weight lost and kept off. I was 252 before my revision from Sleeve to Duodenal Switch and I am just at a year out and today I weigh in the low 190’s and I am still losing. Dr K’s goal for me was about 180. My goal is about 175. I eat more fat now than I ever did even when I was 400 lbs. I enjoy what I eat and I enjoy exercising and most of all I get to enjoy seeing results from my hard work. Food no longer causes me stress and anxiety. I know with 100% certainty that I made the right decision. Thank you Dr. K for your great skill and I don’t mean just with the knife but with the way you are able to make a high anxiety situation seem like no big deal.
A patient was referred to us for second opinion who was experiencing nausea, vomiting, GERD. The patient had Duodenal Switch procedure many years ago but more recently had developed significant nausea, worsening reflux and solid intolerance. The patient had an endoscopy a few months ago and was only found to have a stricture within the Duodenum, no definitive treatment was offered at the time to the patient. On second examination of this patient with a second EGD the result was development of diffuse Duodenal ulcers and stricture.
Note that these images are nearly identical positioning showing the stricture at 9 position. The image on the right also shows patchy ulcers.
Any changes in GERD, nausea, vomiting, gastric pain or discomfort after weight loss surgery should always be evaluated, treated, and followed. In a previous blog, the effects of GERD have been described.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is a serious matter and should not be left untreated. It is know as heartburn or reflux and if you are experiencing more than twice a week you should be evaluated by a physician to investigate the cause. Listed below are some of the causes and end results of not treating GERD.
Esophagitis – An irritant that can be acid, bile, food and digestive enzymes coming back up the esophagus can cause irritation and swelling in the esophagus. If left untreated, it can damage the lining of the esophagus to the point of erosion and scarring. Bile Reflux may also be a cause of esophagitis and Duodenogastroesphogeal reflux (DGER). Bile Reflux information here.
Esophageal Stricture – Scar tissue can cause the lumen of the esophagus to become smaller and narrow. This stricture makes it difficult or painful to swallow foods. If a stricture is narrow enough food may become stuck and require intervention for removal and treatment. This can also put a person at risk for choking. The treatment includes ballon dilation with an endoscope and in cases where it recurs surgery may be required.
Esophageal Ulceration– If GERD is left untreated it can progress to actual ulcerations in the esophagus. Patients may cough up or vomit blood or see it in their stool as dark tarry or coffee ground type stool.
Gastric Stricture– After weight loss surgery such as sleeve gastrectomy, RNY Gastric Bypass, Duodenal Switch, SADI/Loop, Adjustable Gastric Banding, or other gastric surgeries a narrowing of the inner opening of the stomach can result from scar tissue forming. This will require a surgical procedure to rectify. The symptoms can be food intolerance, full feeling, nausea and/or vomiting. (See pictures below)
Hiatal Hernia– An anatomical weakening or enlargement of the opening of the diaphragm muscle where the esophagus meets the stomach. This defect can allow a portion of the stomach to slide or roll into the chest cavity. This then causes reflux of gastric juice and content. Hiatal Hernia’s can also form on weight loss surgical patients. There are several examples within this blog here.
Breathing Difficulties– The acid aspiration while sleeping can make asthma and other breathing difficulties worst and can cause coughing and other issues.
Dental Issues – The acid, food, digestive enzymes backing up into the esophagus and mouth can cause dental issues such as erosion and tooth decay. In regards to dental issues after weight loss surgery there are also other vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can cause oral health issues. Dental Issues after WLS here.
Lower Quality of Life– GERD can affect a person’s quality of life. If you are in discomfort from acid reflux or having food intolerance it can make life difficult. It can also alter food choices and impact nutrition.
Barrets Esophagus– Pre-cancerous changes in the bottom portion of the esophagus due to long term acid exposure from gastric reflux. Diagnosis requires and endoscopic procedure (EGD) and biopsy.
Esophageal Cancer– There is a significant rise in the western world in esophageal adenocarcinoma. The main risk factors are alcohol use, smoking, untreated GERD, and poor diet.
Reflux and difficulty with swallowing caused by stricture is not normal. These problems are quite frequently encountered as complication of Adjustable gastric banding, with slipped band or a band that is too tight and scarred in placed resulting is belt effect. This results in the esophagus not being able to empty and propel the food down. The end result is significant reflux, with difficulty swallowing, nausea, vomiting etc. Similar problems are seen with Gastric bypass where the anastomosis between the stomach pouch and the small bowel RNY limb is too narrow. In Gastric Sleeve and Duodenal Switch operations, is the sleeve is made too narrow, or misshaped (hour glass, funnel, cork screw) it will result in the patient having reflux and symptoms of stricture. One specific problem with the new operation of SADI is the concern for risk of bile reflux, similar to the BillRoth I procedure.
Gastric bypass patient with stricture at the gastro-jejunostomy before and after balloon dilation. Fig A
After balloon dilation. Fig B
Fig. C : Lap band Patient with stricture where the band as removed at another facility and the scar tissue formed around the GE junction was not taken down. The patient had to be taken back to the operation room after his symptoms persisted even though the band had been removed 3 months prior.
A corkscrew stomach of a Duodenal Switch done at another facility, with the patient presented with persistent reflux, nausea and vomiting for years after surgery. Fig. D
This is not an inclusive discussion of GERD and the treatment. Please see your healthcare providers if you are experiencing any symptoms pertaining to GERD or any other health care issue.