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September 1993

The Value of Sham-Feeding Tests in Patients With Postgastrectomy Syndromes

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Wash.

Arch Surg. 1993;128(9):982-987. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1993.01420210042006

Objective:  The value of gastric secretory testing in surgical practice has been questioned. Sham feeding (SF) is a test of gastric secretion that determines the status of gastric vagal innervation or incomplete vagotomy. Our purpose was to show that the results of SF tests affect operative strategy and/or clinical management.

Design:  The medical records of 30 consecutive patients studied with SF in our laboratory were reviewed to determine if patient management was affected by the results of SF.

Patients:  All 30 patients had prior vagotomies. Sham feeding was performed in patients (1) before planned reoperation for postgastrectomy syndromes (n=17), (2) with peptic ulcerations/pain of unclear etiology (n=8), or (3) postoperatively in those who were at high risk for recurrent ulcer (n=5).

Results:  Sham feeding indicated complete vagotomy in 16 patients and incomplete vagotomy in 14 patients. In 17 patients studied before planned reoperation, operative strategy was affected by results of SF in 15 cases; five patients had revagotomies performed at reoperation, 11 did not, and one patient had her operation canceled. In patients with atypical postoperative ulcers/pain, management was changed in only two of eight patients. In the high-risk patients studied postoperatively, management was affected in four of five patients.

Conclusions:  (1) We believe that our results justify the performance of SF before any reoperation on the stomach, since an operative plan was nearly always affected. (2) In patients with atypical peptic complaints after gastric surgery, SF usually (80%) confirmed acid hypersecretion, thereby affecting management less often. (3) Although unproved, we believe SF results can guide the use of "prophylactic" H2-blockers in treating selected high-risk postgastrectomy patients.(Arch Surg. 1993;128:982-987)