What is Pyloroplasty?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Pyloroplasty is a surgical procedure in which the pylorus muscle which controls stomach emptying is operated on so that it is easier to dump the contents of the stomach into the duodenum. There are several reasons why pyloroplasty may be performed. The procedure is done in an operating room with the patient under general anesthesia, and may be done openly or laparoscopically, depending on the situation. Laparoscopic surgical procedures are becoming increasing common because the risks to the patient, as well as the healing time, are radically reduced when compared to open surgeries.

A diagram showing the vagus nerve, which is involved in a pyloroplasty.
A diagram showing the vagus nerve, which is involved in a pyloroplasty.

The pylorus muscle creates a tight band of tissue which makes up the pyloric sphincter, a valve which is designed to control stomach emptying. When the muscle becomes thickened, the opening narrows, in a condition known as pyloric stenosis. This causes problems with stomach emptying, with pyloroplasty being the recommended treatment for pyloric stenosis. One of the most common causes is peptic or gastric ulcer disease, with pyloroplasty being considered after other treatments do not work or when patients experience recurrent painful reflux.

A pyloroplasty is performed by a surgical team to allow the stomach to rid contents into the duodenum.
A pyloroplasty is performed by a surgical team to allow the stomach to rid contents into the duodenum.

Another reason to perform a pyloroplasty is a vagotomy. In a vagotomy procedure, part of the vagus nerve is severed to reduce the production of stomach acid, usually to address acid reflux and related problems such as gastric ulcers. However, this can also lead to delayed stomach emptying, which may make the problem worse for the patient. In these cases, a pyloroplasty will help the stomach empty efficiently and prevent complications after a vagotomy. The two procedures are sometimes performed at the same time.

Laparoscopic surgeries are becoming more common for pyloroplasty procedures due to the reduction in risk and recovery time for the patient.
Laparoscopic surgeries are becoming more common for pyloroplasty procedures due to the reduction in risk and recovery time for the patient.

This procedure may also be performed if there is a mass blocking the pylorus and inhibiting its function. Whether benign or not, the mass can delay stomach emptying and cause complications for the patient. During the pyloroplasty, the mass may also be removed so that it will not continue to grow.

A pyloroplasty may be performed to address issues related to gastric ulcers.
A pyloroplasty may be performed to address issues related to gastric ulcers.

Like all surgeries, surgeries to widen the pyloric sphincter can be accompanied with complications. General anesthesia exposes people to a range of risks associated with the anesthetics used, and patients can also be at risk for infections, damage to the stomach or intestines, and other problems which can occur during surgery. Risks of complications can be reduced by working with a highly experienced surgical team, and taking the time to go over medical history and potential risks before the procedure takes place. Using a board certified surgeon in a hospital with a good reputation is also very advisable.

A pyloroplasty may be performed to address acid reflux.
A pyloroplasty may be performed to address acid reflux.
A pyloroplasty may be done to treat complications from peptic ulcer disease.
A pyloroplasty may be done to treat complications from peptic ulcer disease.
Pyloroplasty is typically done under general anesthesia.
Pyloroplasty is typically done under general anesthesia.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon342906

I can relate to what you've written. I suffer though this so bad to the point my kids bring me into the emergency room because it almost feels as if I am going to have a heart attack. It's how bad the pain gets but I'm scared to have the surgery because of the possible outcome. I go from suffering one thing to then dealing with something else. I'm torn as to what to do. My doctor has tried a few things changed some medications and none of them work completely.

popcorn

Does anyone know how bad your acid reflux has to get before you are sent for pyloroplasty? Do you have to be on prescribed medication for a set period of time?

My mother has been complaining about severe acid reflux for a few years now and she eats antacids like they are candy. I really worry about her health and think that if a simple surgery could help her it would be worth the expense.

It is good to read that with laparoscopic surgery the recovery time of patients is faster. Maybe it is time to get my mom into a doctor that can do some real good for her.

manykitties2

Acid reflux can make your life really terrible because you can't sleep and everything you eat can make you feel like you want to throw up. No matter how many antacids you take sometimes they just aren't enough to help.

My doctor ended up sending me for pyloroplasty after I demanded we do something about my acid reflux. The medication he gave me just wasn't helping enough for me to live a comfortable and normal life.

I had my surgery laparoscopically and while it hurt a lot during recovery, I am glad I had it done. It is nice to be able to eat food again with out all of the terrible acid.

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