What Causes Gastric Sleeve Leak and How to Treat It?

Jul 5, 2022 | 0 comments

On average, there risk of gastric sleeve leak after the surgery is 2%. Typically, the occurrence of this complication is directly associated with the skill and specialty of the bariatric surgeon. Regardless of this, patients who did not take good care of themselves after the surgery may also face leakage.

What can be the cause of sleeve leak after gastric bypass surgery?

The cause may be different for each person. It may be caused by a problem with the instrument or materials employed to close the anastomosis during surgery. It may be because of troubles with the blood flow in the area after surgery. Moreover, it may even be related to other reasons for weak wound healing, such as diabetes or smoking.

Who is prone to gastric sleeve leak after surgery?

The more corpulent you are before surgery, the more at risk you are for a leak. You are also more at risk if you:

  • Are male
  • Have other health conditions
  • Had abdominal surgery in the past

What are the symptoms of gastric sleeve leak after surgery?

Symptoms can be different in each person. They include:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Stomachache
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath (quick breathing or difficulty breathing)
  • Fluid leaking from an incision site
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • The ache in the left shoulder area
  • Low blood pressure
  • Less urine
  • A general feeling of unease (malaise)

The symptoms of anastomotic leaking after gastric bypass surgery may be similar to other health problems. Visit your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is a gastric sleeve leak after surgery diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will inquire about your symptoms and give you a physical exam. You may also have to conduct imaging tests like an upper GI (gastrointestinal) series or a CT scan. For either test, you will imbibe a liquid called a contrast dye. This contributes the images to being clearly visible A machine will scan you with X-rays and produce images. The images can indicate if the dye is leaking through the anastomosis.

If the imaging test does not indicate leaking but you still have symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend emergency surgery to search for a leak.

How is an anastomotic leak after gastric bypass surgery cured?

The leak must be treated immediately. Your healthcare team will likely:

  • Give you antibiotics via an IV.
  • Drain any infection caused by the leak.
  • Fix the leak, or make a new anastomosis with a second surgery.
  • Perform an upper endoscopy to put a short-term (temporary) small tube called a stent across the leaking site. This is performed from the inside of the gastric pouch or the small intestine.
  • Cease all food by mouth. You may be given food via a tube that goes directly into your intestine until the leak has been cured.

Discuss with your healthcare providers about the risks, advantages, and possible side effects of all therapies.

What are the possible complications of an anastomotic leak after gastric bypass surgery?

A leak is dangerous and can be deadly. A leaking anastomosis may cause bleeding and infection until it’s cured. Long-term complications may include:

  • Ulcers
  • Scarring
  • Narrowing of the anastomosis

Crucial points about an anastomotic leak after gastric bypass surgery

During a gastric bypass, a loop of your small intestine is incised and attached to the stomach pouch. The other end of the small intestine loop is attached lower down on the small intestine. This kind of connection is called anastomosis.

One danger of a gastric bypass is digestive juices and partly-digested food leaking via an anastomosis. This is a serious problem after gastric bypass surgery.

A leak may occur up to several weeks after surgery. Most happen within a few days after surgery.

Useful tips

Here are the tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  1. Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
  2. Before your visit, jot down questions you want to be replied to.
  3. Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  4. At the visit, jot down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medications, therapies, or tests. Also, all the instructions must be written down carefully.
  5. Know why a new medication or cure is prescribed, and how it will assist you. Also, know what the possible side effects can be.
  6. Ask if your disease can be treated in other ways.
  7. Know why a test or surgery is recommended and what the results could be.
  8. Know what to expect if you do not take the medications or have the test or surgery.
  9. If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and goal for that visit.
  10. Know how you can call your provider if you have questions.

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