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A gastrectomy population: 25-30 years on.
  1. F. I. Tovey,
  2. J. E. Godfrey,
  3. M. R. Lewin
  1. Department of Surgery, University College London, Rayne Institute, UK.


    Prior to 1960 a Polya gastrectomy was the most frequent operation for duodenal ulcer. The majority of these patients now have reached the age of sixty or older. A prospective longitudinal study of a cohort of patients who underwent gastrectomy between 1955 and 1960 was undertaken. Twenty five to thirty years later the study has revealed the extent of the nutritional problems that may arise with the passage of time and shows that these numerically far outweigh the mechanical post-gastrectomy syndromes and weight loss which tended to dominate the earlier post-gastrectomy scene. By the end of the first decade, iron deficiency was the commonest nutritional problem. Vitamin B12 deficiency assumed more importance in the second decade. During the third decade both reached equal prevalence, being found in some 90% of the female and 70% of the male residual population. Vitamin D deficiency and early osteomalacia was a lesser problem, reaching its climax in the second decade. Evidence suggested a high incidence of osteoporosis and this requires further investigation. Overall, women fared worse than men with a higher and earlier incidence of iron deficiency, particularly in the pre-menopausal group. This study emphasizes the increasing need for regular screening of post-gastrectomy patients to detect early iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiencies as patients grow older.

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