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Techniques of reconstruction after total gastrectomy for cancer.

BACKGROUND: Jejunal pouch formation and restoration of duodenal transit have been suggested for reconstruction after total gastrectomy. Opinions about the clinical value vary.

METHODS: The literature was searched for prospective randomized trials comparing reconstructive procedures after total gastrectomy for malignancy. Reports with at least an English or German abstract were included. Immediate results were evaluated in terms of postoperative deaths and complications. Long-term outcome was analysed using trends in bodyweight and quality of life.

RESULTS: A total of 19 randomized trials including 866 patients was identified. The operative risk of total gastrectomy was low, with a median mortality rate of 0 (range 0-22) per cent, irrespective of the method of reconstruction. Neither gastric substitution nor restoration of duodenal transit was associated with significant procedure-related complications. Results for specific reconstructions varied considerably within and between individual trials. Jejunal pouch reconstruction, but not restoration of duodenal passage, was associated with improved food intake and a tendency for weight gain in the early postoperative months. A favourable perception of quality of life persisted in the long term in some studies.

CONCLUSION: Preservation of duodenal transit offers little clinical benefit. Construction of a small-bowel reservoir after total gastrectomy should be considered to improve early postoperative eating capacity, bodyweight and quality of life.

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