Small-bowel obstruction after gastrectomy is a serious complication that is at times difficult to recognize. It is only with early recognition and aggressive surgical intervention that good results can be expected in cases of bowel obstruction with strangulation. Some postgastrectomy bowel obstructions probably could be averted by an improvement or a modification of the surgical technique used.
During the 18-month interval, September, 1955, to March, 1957, a total of 156 gastrectomies have been done at the Minneapolis Veterans' Administration Hospital for benign and malignant upper gastrointestinal disease. Small-bowel obstruction occurred postoperatively five times, or in 3.3% of the cases. Small-bowel obstruction was present in 2 of the 4 patients who died after gastrectomy and was, therefore, a chief cause of death in these 156 gastrectomies. In addition to the five postoperative cases, three patients entered the hospital during the same 18-month interval and were treated for small-bowel obstruction after having