At Serra Veterinary Hospital, we understand that the health and safety of your beloved pet is of paramount importance. We offer a comprehensive range of surgical solutions, including a vital procedure known as gastropexy, designed to safeguard the well-being of your canine companion.
Understanding Gastropexy
Gastropexy is a surgical intervention that is sometimes recommended for large breed dogs, particularly to mitigate the risks associated with gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), commonly referred to as bloat.
This procedure can be performed for two primary reasons:
Preventive Measure: Gastropexy may be performed proactively as a preventive measure in healthy dogs that are predisposed to GDV. This approach is especially important for deep-chested, large breed dogs like Great Danes, German Shepherds, Standard Poodles, Basset Hounds, Weimaraners, and Irish Setters, as they are more susceptible to this life-threatening condition.
Treatment for GDV: In cases where GDV has already occurred and surgical management is necessary to return the stomach to its normal position, gastropexy is often performed concurrently to prevent a recurrence of the condition.

Understanding Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)

GDV is a grave medical emergency characterized by the twisting of the stomach on itself, leading to the accumulation of gas and/or fluid within the stomach. This twist restricts the escape of gas/fluid, increasing pressure within the stomach and impairing blood flow to the stomach tissues. In severe cases, the spleen may also become twisted along with the stomach, further compromising blood supply. GDV can result in necrosis (death) of gastrointestinal tissues and the spleen, as well as significant impacts on blood pressure and overall health. Without immediate intervention, GDV is typically fatal.

How Gastropexy Prevents GDV

During a gastropexy procedure, our experienced veterinarians securely attach the stomach to the right side of the body wall. This fixation prevents the stomach from undergoing the dangerous twisting that leads to GDV. Various surgical techniques can be employed, but the most common approach involves creating incisions through the outer layer of the stomach and corresponding incisions on the inner body wall, aligning the stomach and body wall. Your veterinarian then sutures the stomach to the body wall using two lines of sutures, allowing the exposed tissue of both structures to fuse together during the healing process. This results in a connection of scar tissue that firmly holds the stomach in place.
While gastropexies can also be performed laparoscopically or endoscopically, these minimally invasive methods are less common due to specialized equipment requirements, typically available at specialty hospitals.

When Might Your Veterinarian Recommend Gastropexy?

There are two primary scenarios in which gastropexy may be recommended:
  1. Prophylactic Gastropexy: This preventive procedure is often performed in high-risk young dogs, frequently during spaying or neutering. It is especially recommended for breeds like Great Danes, where the lifetime risk of GDV is estimated to be around 40%. Prophylactic gastropexy significantly reduces this risk.
  2. Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus: Dogs that have experienced GDV require immediate surgery to untwist the stomach. A gastropexy is typically performed alongside this procedure to secure the stomach in place, preventing recurrence. This lowers the risk of a second episode from 55% to a mere 4%.
  3. Laparoscopic Surgery: Laparoscopic Surgery (a less invasive surgery) is available.
    Smaller incisions (1 – 3 tiny holes)
    Reduced pain due to precise surgical cuts
    Up to 65% less post-operative pain
    Minimally invasive technique reduces the chance of infection
    Outpatient surgery allows your pet to recover in the comfort of your home

Post-operative Care After Gastropexy

For prophylactic gastropexy, post-operative care is similar to that required after routine spaying or neutering. It’s essential to keep your pet calm for approximately seven days post-surgery to facilitate healing. Activities like running, jumping, swimming, or bathing should be avoided to keep the incision clean and dry. Your veterinarian will provide pain medication, and it is crucial to administer these medications as directed.
In cases of emergency gastropexy for GDV, post-operative care may be more involved, depending on the severity of stomach damage observed during surgery. Most dogs will remain hospitalized for several days before continuing their recovery at home. In addition to activity restrictions, a prescription diet and/or medication may be prescribed to protect the gastrointestinal tract.
At Serra Veterinary Hospital, we prioritize your pet’s health and strive to provide the highest level of care. Our commitment to advanced surgical techniques, including gastropexy, ensures your furry friend’s safety and well-being. Your pet’s health and happiness are our top priorities, and we are here to support you every step of the way.