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.
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.
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.
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.
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.