Exploratory surgery for stomach pain....

on 3/8/10 2:04 pm
I posted this same post on the RNY board, so I apologize if you've read it before!  But I wanted to post it here in hopes of receiving more responses than the other board.

Long story short, I've been having stomach pain since Valentine's day weekend, was hospitalized for 3 days due to it.  Have underwent a CT scan, ultrasound and 2 HIDA scans only to find a hiatal hernia.  I have no symptoms at all from the hernia so I don't really think that's my problem.  During this time my surgeon was out of town for 2 weeks so that has delayed my treatment.  He received the results from the last HIDA scan today and his nurse called to tell me that it was normal (again) and that he is recommending exploratory surgery (ugh).  After much discussion with the hubby, and total trust in my surgeon, I have decided to move forward with the surgery.  I mean, this pain has not eased up one bit since it's onset.  I have to find out what is wrong with me.  I can't keep living on pain killers!!

Not that I want something to be wrong with me, but I'm afraid that they will open me up and not find anything.  I will feel like a total fool.  I haven't been able to talk too much with my surgeon due to his busy schedule since his return of his vacation.  But I'm wondering if due to my numerous (7) abdominal surgeries if I could have something as simple as adhesion's causing the pain. 

Oh yeah, the pain is on the upper right side, kind of under the rib cage (in the gallbladder area), it's sometimes worse after eating, but sometimes it radiates in the area around my belly button and my lower stomach. 

First let me thank all of you that hung around and read my mini-story!  But what I want to know is if anyone else has had a similar experience and would you mind sharing it with me?  His nurse said if they found nothing it would be an outpatient procedure, but obviously I would have to stay overnight if they found something.  
Mary C.
on 3/10/10 12:04 am - Canada
Here I am again - following you over to another board  :) - anyway - PLEASE don't think about being afraid that they will find nothing wrong with you. A good frined of mine recently had shoulder surgery and all she could think of beforehand was what if they don't find anything - stressed herself out totally. IF you are having pain - there IS a reason. About adhesions - BIG cause of abdominal pain and discomfort in my experience - looking after patients I mean. 7 abdominal surguries is a significant number - and adhesions could well have happened in there. Take care sweetie!

on 3/10/10 8:03 am
Thank you so much Mary...for following me to the other board also!!!  You are always so kind.  I know the pain is very real and I know my surgeon feels the same way.  But I still feel that I would be embarassed if nothing was found.  Not that I want anything bad wrong with me, but I want to know what is going on!  
Kim T.
on 3/17/10 3:54 am - Mesquite, TX

I agree... It sounds like it could be a hernia... Especially if they already saw one.  I had a hernia, and they couldn't see it until explatory surgery.  I had my surgery reversed do to other complications.  The surgeon that did my reversal has done more than anyone in the area.  He said the main reason for doing reversals is unexplained abdominal pain.  I tell you this, not to say you are going to have to have it reversed... That is RARE.... I tell you this to let you know that you have nothing to be embarassed about if they find nothing.  It is a real symptom, sometimes it just can't be explained.  MOST of the time, they see something during explatory surgery.  It could be scar tissue or adhesions from previous surgeries... that is always a risk with surgery.

-Kim T

Janet R.
on 3/10/10 9:30 am - Peoria, IL
Your pains sounds exactly like the pain I had with an internal hernia. Hope you are getting surgery soon. I had one that I had repaired with an exploratory lap. Then, only six days later, I had another that progressed to a complete small bowel
obstruction. And, like you, I was worried they would not find anything! The pain came and went for me initially, until I had the bowel obstruction. Then, it was constant for about 15hrs before they did surgery to repair the bowel obstruction. I ended up with wound and internal infections, had to be hospitalized again on IV antibiotics and have the wound opened and then at home was packing my wound twice a day. I had constant nausea for about 3-4 wks, and missed 11 weeks of work.
on 3/18/10 3:41 pm - Suffern, NY
I had severe abdominal pain for months.  It was in several areas of my abdomen and had a terrible burning throughout - felt like my stomach was being eaten away.  I had every test in the book - really thought I had an ulcer but I didn't.  Finally after seeing my surgeon after about 4 months (was seeing my Gastro doc and Nurse practitioner at surgeons office), he said I needed exploratory surgery. That was the best thing I ever could have done.  I went in 2 weeks later and he found I had severe adhesions in 4 areas - 2 from the RNY and 2 from previous abdominal surgeries.  These adhesions were so bad they caused my intestines to kink up and I had a 1 inch hole in my intestines which had to be sewed up.  If the surgery hadn't been done when it was, I could have ended up with a full fledged bowel obstruction and hernia.  He also did something very different since we suspected an ulcer in the blind pouch. He tacted my blind pouch up and marked it so that at a future time, I can have a GTube put in through with a radiologist and not surgery and then a scope can be done through it to check for ulcers.

Within days, my pain was completely gone. I felt the burning was gone immediately when I woke up.  I was so glad I had the surgery.


on 3/18/10 7:34 pm - Phoenix, AZ
I can really sympathize with you -- I hope you are doing better / any updates? This is my post from the Complications main forum.

This past couple weeks have been HELL for me...It started with MAJOR pain in my stomache and it was sore to touch - I would tear up. I know the importance of going to the doctor and I thank GOD I have insurance - good insurance to cover the ever so rising medical costs. I ended up going to the ER last week - all they did was some blood work - came back all normal and said I "might" have a viral stomache infection. I followed up with my doctor due to four days of pain, constipation and weight loss (-8lbs). My PCP said it was my diet and told me to take stool softners and Phillips MOM. The pain got so sever, that when I ate - I was crying afterwards and then it would disapate 30-60 minutes after a pain med was taken. I was then sent for a CT scan - Normal. WOW! So then I saw a TV ad for Dr. John Alexander here in Dallas, TX who takes Gastric Bypass patients for revisions. After speaking to him - we scheduled a endoscopy next Saturday 03.27th. He is 90% sure due to my "flobe" banding w/the gastric bypass 15-20% of patients have dillticulume - which causes the small intestine to streech and will lead to a revision and removal of the banding. More disheartning news - My 1st Gastric Bypass Doctor - Dr. Steven C. Simon out of Phoenix, AZ when on medical leave in November '09 and never came back to his practice. Now, feeling abandonded and concerned that if I need to have a bowl movement - I must take MOM. Plus, all my diet is now soft foods like bannanas, yogurt, yogurt, yogurt, bread and soups - with a pain med before I eat for fear of the pain coming back and the nausea from time to time. My new WLS - Dr. Alexander - states the other 10% could be a hernia or ulcer - but the endoscopy will determine the cause.

Does anyone have any suggests or advise to share?

Thank you,

on 3/19/10 12:51 pm - Suffern, NY
I am doing great.  My exploratory surgery corrected all my problems and they never came back.  I am now 17months out and have had no pain since May of 09 when I had the Exploratory surgery and everything was corrected.

I am sorry you are going through all this.  I cant really say much because I have never heard of a Flobe band, so I don't know what it is or what the complications are.  I do know that adhesions and hernias are very common, and cant be diagnosed without exploratory surgery.

I wish you luck.


on 5/2/15 8:18 am


I'm looking for help and noticed your from New York. I have not had weight loss surgery but I am looking for a surgeon willing to do

exploratory surgery for abdominal pain and almost a 90lb weight loss over the last year. Do you think your surgeon who did your exploratory

would be willing to help me?



on 3/20/10 8:08 am, edited 3/20/10 11:43 am - Phenix City , AL
I have had very similar issues...four separate episodes and the final one landed me in the emergency room.  Severe pain in my abdomen around my gall bladder, naval and radiated through my back.  When I went to the ER they did a CT and couldn't really find anything...I think the PA was stuck on the diagnosis of kidney stones so she didn't pay attention to much else.  They gave me Delaudid for the pain and some Septra for a slight urinary tract infection they found on accident and sent me home.  I felt so silly after leaving the ER...I thought it could have been gas the three times before so I figure I just spent 6 hours in the ER with gas pains.  The next day I emailed my surgeons nurse just to give her the run down of what on in the ER and to check and see if she had received my last set of labs and she was immediately concerned.  I came in to the office with all my recent labs and the CT Scan and long story short...the following day I was schedule for pre-op testing and an upper gi with small bowel follow through.  The following day I was scheduled for an exploratory lap.  My sugery was yesterday and last night I was home on my couch.

It was clear that my distal stomach (the one I no longer use) had an opening because in my CT scan from the ER visit it was about the size of a softball...full of gas and fluid.  And apparently, the ER Radiologist didn't think there was anything suspicious about a huge pocket of gas/fluid in my gut!

So, my surgeon closed up the distal stomach, repaired and interal ventral hernia and closed up another hole he found elsewhere.  Hopefully, this has fixed everything and it will be my last hernia.  So far so good...he went in through two of my original incisions but had to make an additional one due to the suspsect location of my hernia.  

Moral of the story...always address any symptoms that could even be loosely related to your bariatric surgery with you surgeon.  This was a minor issue in the grand scheme of things but if I had let it go it could have caused very serious problems.