What is Gastric Torsion in Dogs?

By December 13, 2012Blog

Gastric dilation – volvulus or GDV [gastric torsion or bloat] is enlargement of the stomach associated with rotation. This is an emergency condition. The exact cause is unknown. The stomach rotates 90 to 360 degrees. Predisposing factors include males, older dogs, large meals fed once a day, elevated food bowl, fearful temperament and deep chest.

Gastric dilation – volvulus or GDV [gastric torsion or bloat] is enlargement of the stomach associated with rotation. This is an emergency condition. The exact cause is unknown. The stomach rotates 90 to 360 degrees. Predisposing factors include males, older dogs, large meals fed once a day, elevated food bowl, fearful temperament and deep chest.

GDV usually occurs in large deep chested dogs [i.e. great dane, weimaraner, saint bernard, german shepherd, irish setters, doberman pinscher]. History may include progressively distending abdomen, painful, restlessness and nonproductive retching. Abdominal radiographs are diagnostic.

On presentation, your pet is stabilized with IV fluids, IV antibiotics and gastric [stomach] decompression with either a tube or a trocar. Surgery is done as soon as your pet is stabilized. Surgery is done to remove any damaged tissue [stomach or spleen], decompress the stomach and return it to a normal position, and to adhere the stomach to the body wall [gastropexy] to prevent future rotation. Gastropexies include using a tube or circumcostal / belt-loop [secure a flap from the stomach to the body wall].

To try and prevent this severe emergency condition, feed several small meals per day instead of one large one, avoid stress, restrict exercise before and after eating, do not elevate food bowl and consider a prophylactic gastropexy. Prophylactic [preventative] gastropexies can be done when other routine abdominal surgeries are done such as spay or with laparoscopic assisted surgery or with an endoscopic assisted surgery.

Cardiac arrhythmias can occur after surgery in 45% of the cases. Mortality rates vary from 10% to 45% with timely surgery. Poor prognosis if the stomach has ruptured or if surgery is delayed. Recurrence is less than 10% with gastropexy and 80% without.

Every patient is an individual. Please consult with your primary care veterinarian if your dog is at risk for GDV.

Dr. Lesley Phillips

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