Understanding Roux-en-Y Surgery

The Roux-en-Y is a surgical procedure that plays a role in various kinds of medical treatments. This surgery involves the intentional creation of an anastomosis, or linking passage, between tissue structures that normally wouldn’t connect. Here are some of the common types of Roux-en-Y and reasons for the procedure’s use.

Quick History

The Roux-en-Y was named after the first person who wrote about it in modern medical literature, Swiss surgeon C├ęsar Roux.[1] Around 1893, Roux referenced the procedure’s use as a way to bypass stomach blockages caused by the buildup of internal scarring in patients who suffered from peptic ulcers.

Gastric Bypasses

Roux-en-Y Surgery
In most modern Roux-en-Y operations, surgeons create a pouch using only the upper portion of the stomach.[2] This pouch is then attached directly to the patient’s small intestine, bypassing the vast majority of the stomach.

The stomach and a short connected section of the upper small intestine are then reattached to a lower part of the small intestine. The forked connections from the pouch and stomach create the “Y” shape found in the procedure’s common name.

This form of Roux-en-Y is just one type of gastric bypass. It reduces the amount of food that someone can comfortably eat and still allows their stomach to produce digestive juices that enter the intestinal tract. As a result, it can be an effective treatment for obesity.

Other Types of Roux-en-Y

Roux-en-Y surgeries aren’t only used to help individuals control their diets and combat obesity. The procedure can play a vital role in a number of other lifesaving procedures, such as:

Cancer Surgery Reconstruction

stomach cancerSome stomach cancer sufferers require surgical removals of their stomachs, or gastrectomies. These procedures may involve the removal of a section of the organ or the whole thing depending on the progression of an individual’s cancer.

Following a gastrectomy, surgeons can use the Roux-en-Y technique to reconstruct the gastrointestinal tract.[3] Similar procedures may also be employed to bypass areas of bile ducts that developed tumors and needed to be removed.

Pancreatic Transplant

pancreasSome individuals who suffer from diabetes mellitus end up requiring pancreas transplant operations. Although this surgery has historically been associated with problems like patients rejecting their new organs, some researchers have used specialized techniques to heighten success rates. In these operations, a Roux-en-Y anastomosis can be created to build a path from the transplanted organ to an opening through the skin that is used for venting.[4]

Roux-en-Y operations have also been used to aid in the reconstruction of organs like ruptured pancreases. One such surgery was performed on a 20-year-old woman who sustained blunt force trauma to her abdomen in a car accident.[5]

The Roux-en-Y is an important medical technique with well-studied applications. To learn more about it and other medical issues, follow our blog.