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Gastropexy
Gastrointestinal

What is a Gastropexy?

A gastropexy is a surgical procedure performed on dogs to prevent gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV), commonly known as torsion or bloat. Torsion/bloat is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach rotates, twisting off blood supply and trapping air and gases in the stomach. Because circulation to the stomach and spleen are cut off, the dog goes into shock and dies - usually within a matter of hours. 

During the gastropexy procedure, the right side of the stomach is tacked to the right side of the abdominal wall, in order to prevent shifting and twisting. The procedure can be performed either as an open surgery or as a laparoscopic surgery. It can also be done at the same time a dog is being spayed or neutered. The specific needs of the individual dog will help your veterinarian determine whether the procedure should be perfomed laparoscopically or as an open surgery. A gastropexy is an out-patient procedure, which means your pet does not need to stay overnight.

Why should I consider gastropexy for my dog?

We recommend that any large breed or deep-chested dogs should be considered for this procedure. Why wait until a life-threatening condition has occured? Gastropexy has proven to be an effective preventive against death from bloat in dogs. A study conducted in 1998 and published in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association revealed that in dogs treated for bloat, of those with gastropexy, only 4.3% had a reoccurrence of bloat, compared to 54.5% of dogs that did not have a gastropexy.

Are there any dangers associated with the operation?

Gastropexy is considered a major operation and requires general anesthesia. With modern anesthetics and monitoring equipment, the risk of a complication is very low. It has been said that your pet has a greater chance of being injured in a car wreck than having an anesthetic or surgical complication.

The night before you pet's procedure:

Do not allow your pet to eat after 10pm the night before surgery.  You may leave water available, but only in small amounts.  Do not let them gulp down a large amount.  In most cases your pet's veterinarian will advise you to administer any regular medications as you usually would.  Check with your veterinarian if you have specific questions regarding medications the morning of surgery.

Preparing for your pets's procedure:

We will call you to confirm prior to the day of the procedure, to let you know what time you will need to bring your pet in and to remind you not to allow your pet to eat on the day of the procedure (remove all food and treats by 10pm the night before). You may leave water available. We will email you documents to review and complete, that may answer any questions you have about the estimate or the procedure.  Please bring the completed documents with you when you drop your pet off.

On the day of the procedure:

Again, it is important that you do not feed your pet on the day of the procedure (remove all food and treats by 10pm the night before).  You may leave water available. 

When you arrive on the day of your pet's procedure, you will check in with a Client Service Representative, turn in your paperwork, and leave a deposit.  You will then meet with an Admit Technician who will go over any preferences or questions you may have before you leave. 

The Admit Technician will admit your pet to the Treatment Area.  A pre-anesthetic exam will be performed by your pet's veterinarian, and pre-anesthetic bloodwork will be drawn and run in our in-house laboratory, if we have not already done so.  Pre-anesthetic bloodwork is important to ensure that your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia and that there are no underlying health problems. If everything is acceptable, your pet will then be anesthetized. Most pets will have an intravenous catheter placed to administer the anesthetic. This is to provide fluid therapy during the surgery, and allows us immediate access should your pet require additional medications. After your pet is anesthetized, a breathing tube will be placed in her trachea or windpipe. This will allow the delivery of oxygen and the gas anesthetic directly into the lungs. The length of the surgery varies depending on many factors, including the weight of the dog and whether other procedures are being performed along with the gastropexy.

After the procedure:

Your pet will need 3 to 4 hours to recover here at the hospital following their anesthesia.  The technician or the veterinarian will call you to let you know that the procedure is finished and that your pet is in recovery, and they will schedule an appointment time for you to come in to pick up your pet and meet with our discharge technician.

During your discharge appointment, the discharge technician will review the instructions from the veterinarian about aftercare, go over any medications that have been prescribed, and answer any additional questions you may have. 

Post-operative precautions:

After undergoing anesthesia, your pet will probably still be a little tired for the rest of the day.  You should keep her quiet and confined, and keep her away from things like pools, decks, and stairs for the remainder of the day.  It is important to allow her to rest quietly, away from other pets and small children.

After your pet has settled in at home for about 30 minutes or so, you can offer small amounts of water.  If no vomiting occurs for 30 minutes after that, then small amounts of food may be given.  If any vomiting occurs, withhold food until the next day, but leave water available.

Although the incision is the only evidence of surgery you can see, your pet is doing a lot of healing on the inside of her abdomen as well, and even if she isn't showing any signs of pain or discomfort, it is important to keep her activity restricted.  This means no running, jumping, or climbing stairs, and no activity that induces excitement.  You may want to restrict her to a portion of the house to help keep her calm.

If you are having trouble keeping your pet calm, please call to discuss options with the doctor.  They may prescribe some sedatives to ensure the healing process is allowed to continue.

You will also need to ensure that your pet cannot chew or lick at her incision site.  Even if the sutures remain intact, an infection could develop if your pet is allowed to chew or lick the site.  There are various aids you may need to use in keeping your pet away from their incision site:

  • Elizabethan Collar (e-collar)
  • Bite-not collar
  • Inflatable collar
  • T-shirt

Inspect the incision every day and call us if you see any redness, swelling, or discharge.  These could be signs of infection, and require medical attention.  Too much activity can cause an infection at the incision site. 

Rest and restriction of activity are the primary post-operative care you should provide. Most dogs can resume normal activity ten to fourteen days after surgery. Until then, leash walks, no running or climbing stairs and lots of rest are the rule.

If non-absorbable sutures were used, you will need to make an appointment to have these sutures removed 10 to14 days after the surgery. You may call to schedule this or you may schedule your appointment in advance with one of the Client Service Representatives upon checking out from your pets procedure. During this appointment a technician will bring your pet to the back, inspect the incision site, remove the sutures, and answer any additional questions you may have. 

If you are concerned or have any questions, please call us anytime at (925) 866-8387.

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