Current conceptions of Menetrier's disease only obliquely resemble those originally described. Bona-fide cases are so uncommon that, of 125 cases diagnosed as Menetrier's disease, hypertrophic gastritis, or protein-losing gastropathy treated at the Massachusetts General Hospital during the 26-year period of 1962-1987, only six cases merited an unequivocal anatomic diagnosis. Two other cases previously described proved on review to be nondiagnostic in one instance and Campylobacter pylori gastritis in the other. Because abnormalities in the secretion of gastric acid and in the loss of protein from the stomach may coexist, a representation of each case in semiquantitative terms can be described on triaxial coordinates. Three patients had a hypercoagulable state, one in association with gastric carcinoma. One other case of gastric carcinoma and one of the esophageal carcinoma coexistant with Menetrier's disease were identified. Administration of subcutaneous heparin during the perioperative period to patients with Menetrier's disease is appropriate regardless of whether or not hypercoagulation or carcinoma is manifest. If treatment with anticholinergic drugs and inhibitors of gastic acid secretion fails, total gastrectomy is the best solution, because it stops protein loss, eliminates hyperchlorhydria, prevents development of gastric carcinoma, and permits anastomotic reconstruction between normal esophagus and normal small bowel.
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