STOMACH BLOAT AND TORSION

Dr. Tomas Infernuso, DVM, DACVS

WHAT IS STOMACH BLOAT – TORSION?

Stomach bloat-torsion also called Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) in medical terminology, refers to a life-threatening condition, in which the stomach distends and rotates (twist) along its axis and cuts off the circulation of major organs.

WHAT ARE THE PREDISPOSING FACTORS FOR STOMACH BLOAT-TORSION?

Stomach bloat-torsion is seen in giant deep chested dogs like great Danes, St. Bernards, Labradors, Setters etc., that are fed once per day, exercise after a meal, are older and have relatives with this condition in the past (genetic).

HOW DO I KNOW THAT MY DOG HAS STOMACH BLOAT-TORSION?

The classic signs of stomach bloat-torsion include bloated belly, increased salivation, distressed, attempting to vomit without producing anything, and shocky. If these signs are noted, the patient should be seen immediately by a veterinarian for emergency care.

HOW IS STOMACH BLOAT-TORSION DIAGNOSED?

Blood work should be performed immediately to determine if the patient is in organ failure, then x-rays of the belly to assess the stomach size and position.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR STOMACH BLOAT AND TORSION?

Stomach bloat-torsion is a medical emergency and immediate care should be provided by a veterinarian. The patient is placed on intravenous fluids and after all his vitals are stable, a tube is passed from the mouth into the stomach to evacuate all the gas build up. The second step is to perform surgery to replace the stomach to its normal position (de-rotation) and tacking it to the body wall (gastropexy). During surgery, the spleen and stomach need to be inspected for their viability, compromised during the stomach twist. If their integrity is compromised the spleen should be removed (splenectomy) as well as part of the stomach (gastrectomy).

WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF STOMACH BLOAT-TORSION?

Complications seen from stomach bloat-torsion are 1. Death due to organ failure, 2. Heart attack (stroke) from arrhythmias (irregular heart beat), and toxins released, 3. Sepsis frombacterias circulating into the bloodstream, and 4. Recurrence of the bloat-torsion if the tacking surgery has failed.

WHAT IS THE PROGNOSIS POST SURGERY?

The prognosis for stomach bloat-torsion is fair to good if the condition is treated surgically within the 6 hours of the initial presentation, and if no stomach or spleen are removed.

HOW IS STOMACH BLOAT-TORSION PREVENTED?

Dogs that are predisposed to stomach bloat-torsion should have prophylactic gastropexy procedure done. This surgical technique is performed at the time of spay or neuter and involves attaching the normal stomach to the belly wall (gastropexy) at that time. This technique prevents the stomach to twist, however the stomach can always bloat in the future

It is important to understand that stomach bloating is not a life-threatening condition, however stomach twist is.