Surgical Correction of Gastric Dilation and Volvulus

Adam, a 7 year old Great Dane, was presented to Oswego Animal Hospital for a painful abdomen and unsuccessful attempts at vomiting.  On physical examination, his stomach felt enlarged and very firm, he had a rapid, irregular heart rate and was extremely dehydrated. Due to concerns for gastric dilation and volvulus, abdominal x-rays were performed to evaluate for this condition.

Gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV) is a medical condition in which the stomach dilates (expands with gas) and twists around its axis cutting off blood supply to the stomach and the spleen while causing further gas buildup within the stomach. This is a medical emergency and immediate surgical correction needs to be performed following stabilization with intravenous fluids and pain management.

Adam’s radiographs showed severe dilation of the stomach with an abnormal location of the stomach indicative of a volvulus (twisting of the stomach around the gastric axis). Based on the radiographic findings, it was elected to take Adam into emergency surgery.

While Adam was being prepared for surgery, a stomach tube was passed to allow gas release and prevent further gas buildup. Adam’s fur was clipped and his skin was sterilely scrubbed prior to surgery to prevent infection.  A surgical incision was made from the xiphoid to the pubis to allow full visualization of abdominal contents. The stomach was noted to be severely dilated with a 180 degree twist around the gastric axis. The spleen was severely enlarged with concern for necrosis (tissue death) due to lack of blood supply.  During surgery, the stomach was de-rotated and the stomach tissue was deemed to be healthy with no need for tissue resection. The stomach was tacked in correct anatomical position (gastropexy) to hopefully prevent a similar episode in the future. Due to concerns for areas of necrosis within the spleen, a splenectomy (removal of the spleen) was also performed.

Adam remained in hospital for several days following surgery on intravenous fluids, intravenous antibiotics and injectable pain medications to ensure he remained comfortable while recovering. Adam recovered wonderfully and has discharged from the hospital with a new lease on life! He continues to do well at home under the watchful eye of his loving owner.